Juan De Santiago lost almost everything in the Manhattan flood. This is his story.

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Standing in the bathroom of his damaged apartment on Sunday, Juan De Santiago looks around at what remains. The junior in kinesiology also lost his truck during the Labor Day flood. (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group)

At 5:30 a.m. on Labor Day, Juan De Santiago heard a clap of thunder; it seemed fitting as the weather in Manhattan had been relentlessly stormy for quite some time. He fell back to sleep, not giving it another thought.

At 6:15 a.m. when the fire department knocked on the door, the water flooding out of Wildcat Creek was ankle deep in his bedroom. The boom he heard was not thunder, but water pushing in his window pane.

“I honestly didn’t think too much in the moment, probably because of my adrenaline,” De Santiago said. “I was only concerned about getting everyone out.”

In his rush, De Santiago was able to grab one item from his apartment before leaving: his backpack. Unfortunately, he forgot to grab pants and he arrived at his family’s home in town still in his underwear.

De Santiago, junior in kinesiology, was one of an estimated 40 Kansas State students who reached out to the Office of Student Life following the possibly historic flooding that hit Riley County and the surrounding areas over Labor Day weekend.

Heather Reed, associate dean and director of student life, said the office — in collaboration with other K-State entities — offered assistance to students in varying levels of need.

Some students were given free housing for seven days in on-campus residence halls or living communities and others received zero-percent interest loans from the Financial Aid Office, among other things, Reed said.

“Student life was pretty helpful,” De Santiago said. “I had one teacher not be very accommodating, but other than that all my other teachers were very nice and considerate about my situation and told me to let them know if I needed anything in any way.”

One of his advisors gave him a cell phone after his was lost in the flood.

De Santiago said he feels lucky, even though his fairly new truck is totaled and his apartment is now inhabitable.

Everything is replaceable, he said.

“The flood kind of taught me to deal with real-life problems as well as time management,” De Santiago said. “I still had to go to class, do homework or study, go to work as well as deal with insurance and [find] a new place to live.”

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the Editor in Chief of the Collegian. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a junior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage. I am fueled by a lot of coffee and I spend my (sparse) free time watching stand-up comedy.