Water Woes: Flooding in MSU’s past

8 02 2011

With the recent weather related news, much discussion has arisen regarding floods that have occurred on the campus. There have been three major floods recorded in MSU’s history. The most recent occurred in April of 1975. Grand River rose to above 15 feet and the Red Cedar rose to about 12 feet above its normal level and over 16 feet in some areas causing major flooding.  However, in comparison to the surrounding cities such as Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos, and Meridian Township, Michigan State’s campus suffered minimal damage.  Many people in these nearby cities lost everything. Their houses were completely destroyed by the water and volunteer crews such as the Red Cross had to be called in to assist these individuals. Shelters were set up at Okemos High School, MacDonald Middle School, and Marshall Street Armory for the evacuees. Compared to the devastation that hit elsewhere, MSUs campus was fairly quiet. Demonstration Hall, the Women’s IM Building, Jenison Field House, the Auditorium, Beal Garden, and Kobs Field were the worst hit. Cedar Village and the surrounding apartments were also hit hard. Despite the rain, classes were not cancelled except for those located in Dem Hall, the Women’s building, Jenison, and the Aud. Traffic was the biggest pain on campus. Many roads were closed because of the flood which made it difficult to find alternative routes to class. Preliminary damage reports estimated that it would cost about $50,000 to repair damage to the buildings and anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000 to repair damage to the grounds.

Monday April 6, 1947 marked the second large flood in MSU’s history. A heavy rain fall following a large amount of melting snow caused nearly 65 acres of campus to become covered in water which reached a crest of 12.3 feet.  Old College Field was completely covered by water and all outdoor practices for baseball, football, and golf were suspended. Jenison Fieldhouse was the hardest hit with 12 feet of water flooding the basement. Quonset Village, the State Police post, MSC trailer camp, faculty housing, and the apartments were also affected by the waters. Quonset Village and apartment residents were without heat or electricity for about three days. Roads were also flooded which caused a huge hassle getting around campus. Only classes in the fieldhouse were cancelled for a three-day period, and demonstration hall was closed; all other buildings remained open.

The first large flood that devastated campus occurred in 1904. The State News articles make reference to this flood however, no direct documentation was found.


“Flood Costs Not Heavy.” MSU News-Bulletin [East Lansing] 24 Apr. 1975. Print.

Merrell, Jeff. “MSU Wrings Dry after Flooding.” State News [East Lansing] 21 Apr. 1975. Print.

“Record Flood Waters Drowned MSC Campus.” Michigan State News [East Lansing] 16 Apr.1947. Print.




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