When it rains, it pours

Heavy showers bring floods to campus fields, community

The rain wouldn’t stop.

As Hurricane Florence gently brushed against the East Coast this past weekend, the storm clouds gathered in a way that made the rain never seem to stop pouring from the sky.

As the drops collected on the ground, roadways in the town of Waynesburg were transformed into Slip n’ Slides and several homes and pieces of land were left completely underwater in the aftermath.

With the campus sitting on a hill, Waynesburg University made it out of the storm unscathed.

That is, except for the athletic fields.

Terry Sattler, director of Facilities Planning and Management, said all four of Waynesburg’s athletic fields, including John F. Wiley Stadium, the baseball field, softball field and tennis courts, were flooded in some capacity during the storm.

“Our fields are relatively capable of handling water and floods,” Sattler said. “Our football field had four feet of water on it [Monday].”

The reasoning behind the repetitive flooding is that all of Waynesburg’s athletic fields sit alongside Ten Mile Creek, meaning they all sit on a floodplain, meaning it’s an area that is more susceptible to repetitive flooding. In the past 4 years, Sattler said Wiley Stadium has experienced ‘major’ flooding three times, as well as minor flooding on numerous other occasions.

Sattler said the solution to this problem is easier said than done.

“It’s not as simple as doing something or building a wall or something like that around the fields,” he said. “There are difficulties in changing the look and structure of any floodplain dedicated areas.”

Specifically, Sattler said the problem with deferring floodplains is that the water has to be redirected somewhere else, which can cause problems in the future..

“Floodplains exist to reduce impacts in the community,” he said. “There has to be an impact study done to see where that water would go. We need permits and approvals to do that, and at this point we have chosen to not go down that route.”

Greg Leathers, director of the Greene County Emergency Management Agency, said the past few days haven’t been quite as  traumatic in the community as they typically are.

“Greene County is a pretty resilient place,” he said. “We had several calls to pump basements, as well as some people who went where they shouldn’t have in their cars, but other than that, it wasn’t too bad.”

Leathers said he was aware of the flooding of Waynesburg’s fields.  He went to check on Wiley Stadium Monday morning.

“At 9 a.m., I could start to see the manhole covers bubbling,” Leathers said. “By 11 a.m., it was underwater. It happens so fast.”

Sattler said none of the damages accumulated from the flooding would be covered by the university’s insurance, but he said a majority of the expenses would come out of the Facilities Services budget. He said he is already overseeing cleanup on all of the fields so athletes can resume practices and games as soon as possible.

“Catching up isn’t easy for us,” Satter said. “I wish we didn’t have to do it, but the athletes have the rights to play.”

With more rain expected this upcoming weekend, Leathers said students and community members should heed with caution, especially when operating their vehicles.

“Turn around, don’t drown and don’t drive through it,” Leathers said. “Flood water is not clean, so if you need any assistance, give us a call at 724-627-5387.”