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Storm displaces almost 400 students at Stony Brook University

Student Leslie Amador has her boxes carried away

Student Leslie Amador has her boxes carried away for relocation Wednesday after flooding at Stony Brook University. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Two Stony Brook University dorms that flooded during the remnants of Hurricane Ida will be closed indefinitely for repairs, with 376 students displaced to new rooms elsewhere on campus.

Ammann Hall, which housed freshmen and students in an honors program, and Gray Hall, where new transfers and some returning students lived, were inundated with 4 to 6 feet of water in the basement levels, damaging lounges, power transformers and other utility equipment. The displaced students were allowed to return to retrieve possessions and do a full move this week to dorm rooms assigned to them elsewhere on campus, said Rick Gatteau, vice president for student affairs.

The dorms will remain closed for at least this semester with no definite reopening date, Gatteau said, as potential equipment supply chain issues were assessed. "Once we have that better understood, we'll have a better timeline on when … [repairs] will be complete," he said.

Residents in two other dorms in the same complex also were evacuated to a nearby dining facility in the early hours of last Thursday. But most students in those dorms, O'Neill and Irving, were told they could return last Friday.

Other housing suffered some flooding but remains open, including the Tubman apartments, where a video posted on Reddit showed a small geyser of water bursting from a floor drain onto a ground-level hallway.

Another video on the site showed torrents of water pouring from under the base of a wall into a lounge area in Gray Hall. The lower level of the newly renovated Student Union sustained damage as well, forcing the tutoring center to revert to online services while repairs commence, Gatteau said.

The amount of floodwater in the two dorms was "unprecedented," he said.

"Our emergency management team went there in the middle of the night and couldn’t believe how much water had gotten in. They’d never seen anything like that," he said.

He said the 376 displaced students would have the option to remain where they were placed, or return to the original dorms once they are repaired. He added that the administration was working on 120 special requests for specific housing or placement with roommates.

"I understand there is a lot of angst — you are living in a new place for three weeks and now you’re upended," he said. "But we needed them to be in a safe environment. They were able to get some possessions, then do a full move this week."

Shreeya Kammari, 17, a freshman from Los Angeles, was able to return to her Irving Hall dorm room Friday after evacuating. She said students were alerted by a fire alarm at 1 a.m. the night of the storm, and soon after, students ran out with their phones and little else. "The next morning we were told we had 15 minutes to pack and we'd be given temporary housing," she said.

While relieved to be able to return to her room, she said the evacuation was unsettling. "All of us started getting settled into campus and school life and this put a wrench into it," she said. "We had a tornado warning and strong winds warning and that's what we were expecting. We never expected that a flood would happen."

Gatteau said the Office of Enterprise Risk Management had begun to discuss the need to assess how else climate change could impact the campus.

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