Two months later, K-State students continue to recover from Labor Day floods

Parts of Manhattan, Kan. flooded after a severe rainstorm passed through on Sept. 4, 2018. Some businesses and homes had several feet of water on the first floors. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

It’s been almost two months, and displaced K-State students are starting to settle down following the Labor Day flood.

The Sept. 4 flood in Manhattan impacted a number of residents and several students—30, to be exact, vice president of student life Heather Reed said.

The Office of Student Life and the Department of Housing and Dining Services collaborated to help relocated students. It took between two and three weeks to “make sure students were in permanent housing and had any resources they needed,” Reed said.

Reed said Housing and Dining Services made a “significant investment” offering housing for students displaced. About 10 students, Reed estimated, moved either into the residence halls or Jardine Apartments.

After a week of free living and dining, two students decided to remain in the campus housing system while the others moved into other housing arrangements off campus, Reed said.

But not all the students affected by the flood live on campus. Juan De Santiago, junior in nutrition and kinesiology, is one of many local residents affected by the flood in Manhattan.

De Santiago said he never planned on waking up early on Labor Day, but at 6 a.m. he was awake and wading though ankle deep water as firefighters evacuated his Highland Ridge apartment.

“I heard someone yelling,” De Santiago said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, crap. Someone needs help.’ I didn’t even see the firefighters, but then I hit the ground, and it just processed.”

Alicia Flach, sophomore in agribusiness, who was in the apartment with De Santiago on the morning of the flood said she remembers the scene vividly.

“I grabbed my phone off of the floor and I felt water,” Flach said. “I was like, ‘OK, well, that’s not good.’ By the time I got to the entryway of his apartment, the firefighter had kicked in the door and it was a rush of water in.”

Fearing for her safety, De Santiago told Flach to leave the apartment while he gathered his backpack and laptop, two of the few possessions De Santiago retrieved before the water overtook the building. The flood claimed most of his possession, though. Besides his bag and laptop, he salvaged a few dishes. But his clothes, TV and nearly-new truck? All gone. Flach lost her vehicle as well.

While Highland Ridge staffers are busy renovating his apartment, De Santiago and his roommate are living in a second-floor apartment.

Two months later, De Santiago said he is nearly finished recovering from the devastating flood.

De Santiago and Flach’s reactions, though, differed.

“I’m pretty good under pressure, I think,” De Santiago said. “ So it wasn’t too traumatizing, but it was pretty crazy.”

Flach said she wasn’t as composed, at least not initially.

“It kind of hit me,” Flach said, “[I] broke down and everything. But after awhile, we started making jokes about it. I was more hung up on the fact that literally all of [De Santiago’s] belongings are gone. He was like, ‘Everything’s replaceable. It’s going to be OK.”