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Hurricane Irene's Effect on Crum Meadow

By Carol Brévart-Demm


Upperclass students were making their way back to the College and first-years just completing their final orientation activities in late August, when Hurricane Irene—ironically, the name of the ancient Greeks’ goddess of peace—blasted in from the South. Roaring with 85 m.p.h. winds through campus, the storm dumped seven inches of rain onto ground already waterlogged after the wettest August on record. Crum Creek spilled out of its banks and transformed Crum Meadow into a lake that almost covered the standing stones of the Henge (at right). To protect the residential area of the campus, College facilities and environmental staff members, in anticipation of the storm, had cleaned gutters, downspouts, and drains to allow maximum runoff and placed sand bags and hay bales at the ready to ward off floodwater. They also cleared the floors of flood-prone indoor areas—such as the College Bookstore storage room—and pumped repeatedly to keep the water at bay. Thanks to the thorough preparations, no buildings suffered major damage. And by Monday morning, with Irene careening northward, leaving brilliant sunshine in her wake, some pools of water on Parrish lawns, masses of various-sized branches and leaves carpeting the ground, and one uprooted catalpa tree were the only visible signs that this Irene—not living up to her name—had come and gone.

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