September 8, 2011

Storm Soaks Ithaca, Disrupts Commutes

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A torrential downpour in Ithaca on Wednesday closed roads, disrupted commutes and left students across campus soaked.

Although the University anticipated no change in its operating status, in a press release Wednesday it said many members of the community could be affected by localized flooding.

“We ask that supervisors be open and flexible with employee work schedules, especially if employees have long commutes to campus or special conditions related to travel,” the University stated.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton issued a flash flood warning for Tompkins County at around 4:30 PM due to excessive rainfall in the area.

According to the National Weather Service, Doppler radar showed excessive precipitation that could account for a rainfall of up to five inches through 8 p.m.  The National Weather Service noted that this amount of rain is enough to cause “rapid flooding of streams, creeks, urbanized areas and other poor drainage areas.”

Brian Wilbur, interim communications center manager at the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response, said that it is important that students avoid flooded roadways when such warnings are issued.

“Flash floods could take a lot of different forms, and this could definitely affect walkways where students tend to commute on campus,” Wilbur said. “It would be very easy to get into an innocent puddle or shallow body of water when in fact it may be deeper. A student can end up submerged or knocked off balance.”

While the National Weather Service is advising residents to avoid driving over flooded roads or bridges, some Cornell students decided to brave the streets of Ithaca.

“I was driving at around 6 p.m. and realized the roads were getting pretty bad,” Morgan Howard ’14 said. “Some side streets were extremely flooded so I had to keep to main roads. It was actually pretty scary.”

Jacquie Homuth ’14 said that while she was prepared for the precipitation, many Cornellians were not as fortunate.

“I saw many unprepared freshmen who were clearly underestimating the wrath of Ithaca weather,” Homuth said. “They were wearing shorts and T-shirts. Walking past the Cornell Store, it seemed as though raincoats and umbrellas were flying off the shelves.”

Patty Poist, communications and marketing manager for TCAT, said that only some bus routes were affected by the rain.

“As of now, so far so good. There may be delays here and there, but we can only ask our passengers to be patient and dress accordingly,” Poist said. “There are 34 routes, so it is hard to say which ones are going to be delayed. Right now the only route which is affected is Route 52, and it does not affect students nearly as much as it affects employees commuting to campus.”

Poist said TCAT is keeping on top of county weather reports and will update its website if necessary.

“All I can say to students is definitely do not go outside of you don’t have to,” Poist said.

Original Author: Alyson Warhit