Revisiting the People of Colorado State University Affected by the July 28, 1997, Flood

Note to Editors: Colorado State University introduced to the public the individuals below in the days following the flood. To mark the six-month anniversary of the flood, these individuals were asked for a progress report. Interested media are welcome to contact any of these individuals for interviews, using the phone numbers provided below.


Ron Williams, a philosophy professor and Colorado native, lost most of his 33 years of material in his office in Eddy Hall, including books, research material, decades of class notes, students’ files, graduate material and artwork.

Shortly after the flood, Williams said, "I’m working 12 to 14 hours a day all week long trying to salvage some of my material. Overall, it’s a heartbreaking loss, but it offers us a chance for a new start. I’m staying upbeat. It puts a new perspective on what’s important, and I think we’re very fortunate to have come through the flood with no deaths at the university."


Ron Williams still is working on recovering from the flood, but at least he’s no longer working 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

"I’m still sorting out papers and other material, but right now I’m spending more time filling out order forms for new books."

Williams managed to save about 800 out of 3,000 slides. While he lost most of his collection of video documentaries and films, fortunately his research tapes of Indian and Japanese rituals were archived by the Office of Instructional Services. One recent tape, important to his research in collaboration with philosophy Professor James Boyd, was partially restored for $700.

In all, Williams lost about $67,000 worth of written and taped materials, files and artwork in the flood. Insurance will cover some of the cost, but even considering that assistance, Williams said the losses range far beyond monetary values.

"It was a semester to forget," he said. "But we got through it somehow and I guess it’s time to let go of what was lost."

Before Williams could begin teaching an upper-division class in 20th-century philosophy this spring, he found himself reconstructing notes from scratch.

"Starting all over provided an opportunity for a fresh perspective on the material," Williams said. "I also ordered many new books for the class, so I had to do quite a bit of reading, which was enjoyable.

"The philosophy department received large donations of standard philosophical works and texts following the flood, and I am very grateful to have received many books and some financial help from friends."

Call Ron Williams at (970) 491-6887.

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SoYon Bueno, who holds a graduate assistantship position as manager of Lory Apartments and International House, lost her car and personal possessions to the flood, but what she remembers most is an evening of chaos and concern over the safety of residents in the complex.

"People were telling me water was coming into their apartments, and before I knew it we had a foot of water," she said. "We tried calling 911, but the phone lines were down. The fire alarms were going off and the water just kept getting deeper, so we went knocking on doors to tell people to evacuate.

"We got everybody out, and in minutes, it seemed, we had 3 or 4 feet of water in the bottom apartments."


SoYon Bueno still is manager of Lory Apartments and International House, still is working toward a degree in student affairs in higher education, and is glad to have survived a very long, trying night.

"We’ve been very anxious to come back," Bueno said, standing in the newly refurbished lobby of the apartment complex. "The flood was a real strain on everybody, because at first there was no attention given to residents who had been displaced and who had lost many of their possessions."

Recovery efforts, though, have been fast and smooth, Bueno said. All damaged apartments were renovated and now almost every apartment is occupied.

Mehmet Kilinc, office manager of the apartment complex, said 52 residents in about 30 apartments were affected by the flood.

One resident and Colorado State student, Sebastian Contreras Jr., now is the owner of a new car. On the evening of the flood, Contreras had watched along with about 150 other residents as his car and other vehicles were carried away by flood waters and bounced around like bowling pins. Contreras, whose apartment and belongings also were damaged, recently moved back into the same unit after it was renovated. He’s continuing to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education.

A welcoming party will be held Wednesday, Jan. 21, for residents and the community to celebrate the reopening of International House.

Call SoYon Bueno at (970) 491-3264.

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The wall of water that smashed through the west doors of the Lory Student Center almost caught several workers by surprise. In the early evening on July 28, staff members were trying to mop up what they thought were a series of irritating leaks in the building caused by normal rainstorms.

"We got a shop vac out, and we were emptying it for a third time when we saw the water blowing through the bottom panels of the doors," said Connie Lane, the Lory Student Center’s game room manager. "The hallway filled instantly with 3-1/2 or 4 feet of water. We got out of there.

"It was unbelievable, how fast the building flooded."


Connie Lane was excited to see the Lory Student Center theater open for the first time in mid-January for a veterinary medicine conference. It was the first event to be held in the refurbished theater since the flood hit.

"As coordinator of various and sundry post-flood projects at the student center, the most exciting part for me was turning over the theater to technical crews so they could start setting up for events," she said. "It’s such a great feeling. I can’t wait to see dancers using the new stage floor. Seniors, too, will be able to enjoy their last semester watching movies in the comfort of the newly refurbished theater."

Lane flew to New York on Jan. 13 with Janet Landreth, associate professor in the department of music, theatre and dance, to visit the only factory that manufactures Steinway pianos. The original Steinway in the student center had been found floating upside-down in dirty flood water.

Although a new $6,000 lighting console was installed early in January, the theater still has only eight lights, Lane said. However, more equipment will be installed in the theater as the semester progresses.

"I don’t know when we’ll have a grand opening, but I do know it’s going to be a great time. We have a lot to celebrate."

Lane can be reached at (970) 491-1177.