IT WAS baptism by flood.

Instead of the traditional “rite of passage”, freshmen got an initiation of sorts to campus life as some were among the nearly 500 students left stranded by flooding last June 23.

Officials decided to postpone the yearly Thomasian Welcome Walk—wherein freshmen gets symbolic welcome by passing through the Arch of the Centuries—and cancel the day’s classes at around 4 p.m. amid heavy downpour.

Flood submerged the Sampaloc area at around six in the evening, prompting officials to evacuate students.

Freshman Joshua Buccat of the Faculty of Engineering said the postponement of the Thomasian Welcome Walk gave him an even more memorable experience of his first day.

“I already heard [stories] that when it rains in UST, floods will surely come, but I never expected it to happen this day (June 23),” said Buccat. “I will just have to get used to it and face the fact.”

UST Security Office commander Joseph Badinas said around 480 students were “rescued” by University-owned amphibious trucks and brought to the Tan Yan Kee (TYK) Student Center. Some, however, were left stranded inside the Beato Angelico building.

“The Rescue 1611 truck and campus security jeepney roamed inside the campus to pick up students stranded in different buildings,” Public Affairs chief Giovanna Fontanilla said.

Students Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) president Rolando Vittorio Gatmaitan, Jr. said the TYK building was closed at 10 p.m., but students who arrived later were still accommodated.

“Rooms and offices in the first and second floors were used as sleeping quarters for the students,” he said.

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According to Fontanilla, this year’s preparations were “well-coordinated” unlike in late 2009 during storm Ondoy.

“Unlike [during] Ondoy when more than 3,000 students were stranded in different buildings, we were able to control the situation. Fortunately, no other problems occurred during the rescue operations except for the food delivery since the flood slowed down the workers of the restaurants,” she said.

Central Student Council president Lorraine Taguiam said they asked security guards of every building in the campus to tell students to head to the TYK building, where food and garments were available.

‘Falcon’ aftermath

UST Hospital endured a knee-deep flooding from Thursday until weekend, causing inconvenience to patients and visitors.

St. Raymund’s building, which houses the Faculty of Arts and Letters and College of Commerce and Business Administration, saw ankle-deep flood during the downpour on the night of June 23.

The St. Martin de Porres building also experienced knee-deep flood inside, damaging books and elevators. The water inside the building did not subside until Saturday morning.

Major streets inside the University like the Tamayo and Ruaño drives were submerged, preventing vehicles from exiting the campus.

SOCC public relations officer Enrique Herrera, who experienced the flood brought by Ondoy, said the University’s actions during Falcon were better.

“From what I observed, though hundreds of students were stranded, it was far better than what we experienced during the typhoon Ondoy,” said Herrera. “Food delivery was better and when all students were brought to the Tan Yan Kee, it became more convenient for us (the officers and students) than being stranded in different buildings.”

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