Tuesday’s flooding was insane. There’s really no other way to put it.
But by now we’ve all dried out our shoes and made it safely home, reveling in the photos of frat guys floating on inflatable pool rafts in front of Thomas and Mack, of people in front of the Student Union with fishing poles in hand, and the many funny image macros about the chaos shared by our very own ‘UNLV Memes’ and spread around social media like wildfire.
All in good fun, of course. We are lucky the rain didn’t last longer, but some students found their luck ran out completely that day.
While many were laughing with friends at spectacles like the Alumni Amphitheatre turned into a swimming hole, others were returning from class to find their cars totalled by floodwater.
Some students we encountered lacked insurance with flood coverage. One girl at Thomas and Mack opened her trunk to find soaked textbooks. Another student opened the door to his expensive Mustang to find inches of water under the dashboard.
We learned many things in a short time: don’t park anywhere near Thomas and Mack if it starts raining hard, flood coverage is a necessity in Vegas, and have extra shoes on hand in case yours get swept away in an unrelenting deluge of nasty brown water. We also learned that UNLV doesn’t seem to have a solid contingency plan in the event of flooding.
Students were forced to take matters in their own hands, with many wading out into the muck in order to rescue their property or help others do the same.
Had the rain been much worse, we may have measured the cost in lives and not just dollars. In a span of several hours in the heavily flooded Black Lot, only one UNLV Police officer arrived on scene and by then it was already too late.
Security personnel from Thomas and Mack arrived but sat in their cart and made themselves useless. In some places, orange cones were the only semblance of order, while phone alerts sent out by the university arrived as students were already shoveling water out of their backpacks. It’s not UNLV’s fault that this city was designed by committee, but there should be some safeguards put in place.
Students we talked to claimed that similar flooding had happened in the past, so why not put up warning signs in affected lots or send phone alerts a day before heavy showers are expected?
A masters program in Crisis and Emergency Management was recently established in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs; a thorough flood contingency plan could be their first contribution to the community.
As for Thomas and Mack security and UNLV Police, we pay them to protect and serve, not sit in their cars and watch students do the dirty work.
The students affected by the flood could have benefited from a little help that day, and it’s not too much to ask of officials to give their policies and performance an honest review.
Most made it out okay, but those that didn’t face severe financial repercussions that could end their college careers before they even start.