On the evening of January 26, McGill students flocked to Gerts for an event titled “Flood Girl: Never Forget.” The evening was organized to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Flood Girl, an anonymous student whose attempt to cross a flooded McTavish Street in 2013 rapidly became a viral Youtube sensation.
“Flood Girl may appear to be a ridiculous viral video of an unfortunate lady sliding down a hill,” said Maddy Vida, a bar manager at Gerts and one of the event’s organizers, “but she is truly a symbol of perseverance that every McGill student can relate to in any difficult situation.”
Disaster struck in January 2013 when construction on the McTavish Reservoir, located at the intersection of Dr. Penfield Avenue and McTavish Street, ruptured a water main. Large amounts of water gushed out of the water main and cascaded rapidly down McTavish Street, making it impossible to traverse.
However, one student, the eponymous “Flood Girl,” endeavoured to cross what had become a fast-moving river on McTavish. Her attempt to cross McTavish was recorded on a witness’ phone, and the video later went viral, with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. As the anonymous student reaches the middle of the street, the sheer force of the flood is visible. Soon after, Flood Girl is swept off her feet and down the hill, only regaining her footing near the Faculty Club.
Nearly every McGill student since has heard a rendition of the Flood Girl story. Another organizer of “Flood Girl: Never Forget” and a bar manager at Gerts, Ashkaan Mohtashami, believes this is because of the relatability of Flood Girl’s struggle. “Everyone has had a similar experience at McGill, where despite your best efforts and calculations, things just fall apart because of things outside of your control,” explained Mohtashami. He added that he thinks “a lot of people just relate to her struggle.”
An anonymous student told The Bull & Bear that Flood Girl is not just a symbol of so many McGill students’ struggles, but also a unifying emblem around which to rally. At a school without a monolithic or pervasive “school spirit,” Flood Girl is one thing that so many students can relate to and laugh about. “Flood Girl is an important part of the McGill student body’s collective memory,” she noted.
“Flood Girl is every McGill student, just as every McGill student is Flood Girl.”
This is not the first time Gerts has hosted an event in honour of Flood Girl. Shortly after the infamous events of January 28, 2013, a bartender at Gerts decided to commemorate the still-unidentified student, and it has since become a near-annual tradition at Gerts. This year, students were treated to live music and a new menu addition: “Flood-gria,” the new moniker bestowed upon Gerts sangria.
As students gathered together to drink, dance, and reflect upon the true identity of Flood Girl, an important message, best articulated by Gerts bar manager Bailey Hughes, resonated with all: “Flood Girl is every McGill student, just as every McGill student is Flood Girl.”
An earlier version of this article stated that the event’s future was uncertain due to the upcoming closure of the Shatner Building. The Bull & Bear apologizes for this error.