University of Iowa bus system handles high waters

Posted on July 14, 2008


Record flooding last month put extraordinary stress on the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The university, with east and west campuses bisected by the Iowa River, saw as many as 19 buildings damaged by the flood waters.

But the university transit service, called Cambus, was able to provide transportation for all but two days of the unprecedented flooding. “We canceled service for just one weekend, June 14 and 15, and ran modified service for the following week,” said Cambus spokesperson Carol Pustell.

Pustell said Cambus was kept apprised of flood developments by the public safety department but was often left to its own devices. “It was very chaotic,” she said. “Honestly, we figured things out as we went.”

Pustell said the fleet’s 25 buses suffered little damage, thanks to preventive measures taken by the department. Cambus employees, she said, sandbagged the fleet’s maintenance facility, located on the riverfront, before waters reached flood levels. “We also moved as much equipment as we could to our office locations,” she said. The only damage at the bus garage was a flooded pit.

Cambus also assisted emergency evacuation of a student apartment building called Hawkeye Court. Pustell said Cambus shuttled students from the complex to a downtown location on the other side of the river. Cambus also helped to shuttle sandbagging volunteers to various areas of the campus.

Although some street sinkholes still require campus buses to make some route deviations, “the worst of it is pretty much over,” Pustell said.

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