Remembering The "Flood of '93"
Story and memories courtesy of Tom Kroeschell, Director of Programming for Cyclones.tv
It has been two decades since flood waters overwhelmed Hilton Coliseum (water into the balcony) and the Hilton Parking lots (and much more) but some of the sights stick with you, even 20 years later. I was late into my seventh year at Iowa State at the time and here is my recollection of the memorable events of July 8-9, 1993.
Though raised in the Midwest I had no conception of what a “Flash Flood” was. I learned in dramatic fashion.
The drama actually started to play out the night of July 8 when a major storm with wind damage rolled through Story County. The sirens went off and our family of three (myself, wife Beth and infant Liza) hunkered down in the basement of our house on Ash Avenue. We turned the radio to KASI in Ames. We listened to Rich Fellingham on 1430 as he took calls from around Story County after the storm had passed.
One call went like this as a young male caller reported:
“We have flooding here in Nevada and the streets haven’t drained out yet…then, suddenly I turned around and I SAW BIGFOOT.”
The next caller also related storm damage and he too ended his report with a Bigfoot sighting.
On one hand, I laughed because this caught me off guard. But on the flip side here was Rich trying to do a very needed service for those of us in Ames and these guys were mocking it.
I had no idea what was coming down from northern Iowa.The next morning dawned sunny.
Our communications office back then was located in a trailer on the west side of the Olsen Building (long before the Jacobson Building and the Bergstrom Football Complex). Just after 8 a.m. someone came and told us to move our cars. The flood waters were coming. It really happened in a flash. By 8:30 a.m. the water was starting to cover the trailer’s steps and the Hilton parking lot was a lake, deep enough to accommodate a boat.
From the Olsen Building, I had no idea that flood waters were rapidly filling Hilton Coliseum. As an office, seeing was believing. Beth Haag of our operation (now a lecturer in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communications) and Jeff Shoultz of our marketing department (current General Manager of Cyclone Sports Properties), assisted in rescuing our computer files from the trailer in case the water came in the trailer (it didn’t). I can remember our Director of Athletics, Gene Smith, who had only been on the job one week, shaking his head as he waded to his car.
One final memory.
ESPN called me and wanted to do an sports angle, any angle at all, to run nationally about the flood. In addition to Jack Trice Stadium being surrounded by water and Hilton devastated, they desperately wanted to interview some players. Eventually I found two players who lost everything they had in their apartment. ESPN then interviewed Cyclone head football coach Jim Walden about the floods. I was uncomfortable about the whole effort, because football was immaterial compared to the extent of the disaster.
Walden was asked about the players dealing with the loss of all that was in their apartment. His reply was spot on.
“You’re right, they lost all they had, two pairs of boxer shorts and several pizza boxes.”
According to the players, it was an accurate assessment.
But there were thousands of central Iowans devastated people who lost their homes. Des Moines did not have drinking water.
Since then, I have always felt vulnerable to the rising tides of Squaw Creek spurred on by heavy rain north of Ames.
The times had changed, but the work to dig out after this flood (and the flood of 2010) was daunting. My co-workers at Cyclones.tv, Tyler Rutherford and Dani Varley (not you John Walters), were in elementary school in 1993. For no other reason than that, it takes just a moment to get them up to speed on what happened 20 years ago.
- Tom Kroeschell, Director of Programming, Cyclones.tv