Heavy rain showered the Claremont Colleges this Tuesday, causing student displacement and damage to facilities, including residence halls.
Los Angeles County had already experienced significant rainfall the previous day, and it continued through Election Day.
“Southern California weather trends over various years have had major storms come through the area, including those experienced this week,” Larry J. Burik, Claremont McKenna College associate vice president of facilities management & capital projects, said in an email to TSL.
In preparation for storm weather, Pomona College inspects and clears all interior and exterior drainage systems, including leaves and other debris from inlet areas throughout campus, Robert Robinson, assistant vice president of facilities and campus services, told TSL.
“All of our housing facilities are on a regular maintenance schedule,” Robinson said. “But with heavy rain, drains can still get overwhelmed.”
The rain affected multiple Pomona residence halls: rooms in Walker Hall, a ceiling in Gibson Hall and a room in Harwood experienced water leakage due to a clogged spout.
Of those, only the Harwood dorm has been repaired, while drywall repair and painting is scheduled for next week in the Gibson dorm. In Walker Hall, a roofing contractor came up with a timeline for repairs on Wednesday.
CMC also ensures all rooftop and ground drains are clear of debris and puts out sandbags in various campus locations to divert rainwater in anticipation of storms. Nevertheless, CMC experienced damages caused by the rainfall.
“Due to the severity of the recent storm, we did experience roof leaks and one landscape flood that came under the door of an apartment,” Burik said.
CMC provided impacted students with temporary housing accommodations and is working with the students to inventory any property damage, according to Burik.
“Our roofing contractor did their best to resolve the matter during the rain event,” Burik said. “We are following up with the various leak locations for a more permanent repair.”
At Scripps, several residence halls including Wilbur, Clark, and Senior Routt Apartments were impacted, along with other facilities Tiernan Field House, Balch Auditorium, the Music Library, SCORE, and the Malott Commons.
Of the facilities, the Music Library was the most heavily impacted, according to Josh Reeder, executive director of facilities management and auxiliary operations.
“We have had similar sized rain events the past several years,” Reeder said. “However, this one had higher volume concentrated in a shorter duration, which overwhelmed drains that we hadn’t seen overwhelmed in the past to the degree they were.”
Scripps also practices annual and biannual maintenance activities from cleaning storm drains and gutters to performing regular inspections of pumps and other systems to assist in rainfall events.
Walker Hall resident Ethan Diaz PO ’24 lives in one of the dorms impacted by the flooding at Pomona. Maintenance was sent to his room the same day to evaluate Diaz and his neighbor’s damages, along with those of two dorms on the floor above him.
Maintenance staff told him to go to the Housing and Residence Life (HRL) office to collect his keys to a temporary room in Oldenborg. Diaz said many of his personal belongings on the floor were damaged, but when he asked HRL staff about compensation for the damaged belongings, they reportedly told him that there was nothing they could do due to his lack of renter’s insurance.
“A lot of personal belongings that had meaning were damaged, and these are sensitive,” Diaz said. “Even their solutions were very businesslike, rather than a student relationship with [HRL]. We’re living in dorms, not renting from some landlord. We have to live here.”
Throughout the rest of the day, Diaz tried to contact the HRL office about the situation in his flooded room. He says he did not receive an answer until after several attempts, despite calling during business hours.
“It was very hard to reach anyone. I tried calling [HRL] a bunch of times during this whole thing, and they never answer their phones during business hours,” Diaz said. “It just seems like there’s no communication between administration and students in situations like these where it would be critical.”
Lyon Court resident Simon Shelley PO ’26 also experienced damages to his dorm after cracks in his ceiling appeared and water leaked into his room.
Shelley said that maintenance responded within minutes of him submitting a work order. They believed that the damage was being caused by a clogged drain on the roof that contained water, according to Shelley.
The cracks are still present in his dorm’s ceiling, and Shelley hopes that student dorms are improved upon in the near future.
“It seems like the administration should invest a bit more into the dorms,” Shelley said. “I think they should be renovated. I mean, I’ve got cracks in the ceiling that should probably be repaired.”
Diaz emphasized the need for college administration to take the quality of student life on campus more seriously.
“I really wish that [HRL] could have some empathy to understand what we’re going through as students,” Diaz said. “Hopefully, faculty or administration can reach out, and we can come to some sort of better solution and conclusion than what we have.”
As of Nov. 10, Pitzer and Scripps College administrations said they needed more time to respond to TSL’s request for comment. Harvey Mudd did not respond to TSL’s request for comment.