rain on campus

Ready for El Niño From Facilities Management to Public Safety, Chapman University plans for potential 'Godzilla' storms this winter

While scientists watch the development of the so-called “Godzilla”
El Niño
expected to hit California this winter, Chapman University’s Facilities Management Department has been quietly preparing the campus for what will likely be an extremely wet season.

Besides cleaning out roof drains and gutters, facilities teams have also installed new pumps in several areas, serviced emergency generators and overseen the installation of several new roofs on campus buildings throughout the summer, according to Rick Turner, associate vice president for Facilities Management.

men working

Chapman University HVAC specialist Robert Lemus, left, and Evan Spotswood, building controls manager, familiarize themselves with self-inflating “sandless” sand bags. The flood control sacks were ordered in anticipation of an especially wet El Niño season.

Turner doesn’t foresee major problems because at Chapman “generally speaking we get a good runoff.” But he acknowledged that this year may present exceptional challenges.

See an urgent leak problem on campus? Call public safety dispatch at 714-997-6763.

To that end, the University invested in a style of lightweight “sand free” sandbags. Lighter than traditional sandbags, the biodegradable sacks can be quickly deployed where needed.

Construction at the Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts has reached a point where continuing work will not be significantly impacted by weather. In fact, in place at the site’s lower levels is a large catchment basin that will capture runoff, divert it from storm drains and filter it back into the ground where it will help replenish Orange’s subterranean water table, Turner said.


A large catchment basin under the Musco Center for the Arts will help divert rain run off from storm drains and into the underground water table.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Safety is urging everyone in the campus community to update their phones with
Panther Alert
. Emergency announcements related to weather will go out on Panther Alert, and less-urgent news will be sent out in emails or posted in
, said Randy Burba, chief of Public Safety.

And don’t be deceived into thinking that the rain water flowing in nearby creeks, flood channels or
the Santa Ana River
is tame enough for rafting, or that anyone is invincible in high surf, he said.

“Listen to the public warnings. If they say high surf and avoid certain areas, then avoid the areas,” Burba said.

To receive updates about warnings throughout the county, register at


Featured image at top/2010 file photo

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