September 24, 2004

Cleanup underway after storm swamps campus

Quick work by campus maintenance crews is helping ensure that last weekend’s short but powerful storm doesn’t result in long-term problems.

The heavy rain and hail caused significant water damage to the University Union, CSUS Foundation operations, the lower level of the library and several campus buildings including Capistrano Hall, Eureka Hall, Tahoe Hall and Shasta Hall. Damage was also done to the still-under construction Academic Information Resource Center.

Carpets in many places have been removed and heavy-duty de-humidifiers are being employed to dry out soaked floors and walls in an effort to prevent more serious issues later on.

The University carries flood insurance, and though estimates are still being taken, it is expected that the damages will easily go over the Union’s $250,000 and the campus’ $500,000 deductibles.

In the Union, the water damaged virtually every wall on the first floor except those in the Ballroom, according to Union director Leslie Davis. At least six inches of water flowed through the building and more than four feet accumulated in the loading docks. Davis says the building will be closing at 9 p.m. the rest of this week and food service in the Hornet’s Nest food court will be suspended over the weekend to allow crews to run the equipment without disturbing occupants. Modified entrances will be set up to minimize traffic through the building.

Among the major repair projects that lie ahead is the hardwood floor of the Redwood Room, which will be partially torn up to provide more access for the dehumidifiers. Eventually the entire floor may have to be replaced. Once the drying-out process is complete, restoration will begin with the majority of the work being completed over winter break to minimize downtime for students, Davis says.

Among other areas that were affected:

Mike Christensen, director of environmental health and safety for the campus, says the University’s pumping system, which pumps storm water into the river, functioned properly but that it appears the drains themselves become blocked by leaves knocked down by heavy hail.

“It was a freak event. No one system is designed to handle that,” he says. Christensen also notes that there was no sewage backup on the campus which is often a concern in flooding. The storm drains eventually handled the water left by the storm and discharged it to the river.

Most places on campus where crews have been working have dried out really fast, Christensen says, which will prevent problems further down the line. He says that when people smell musty odors on campus, they are most likely smelling wet carpet.

“The smells are caused by moisture,” he says. “It’s not a hazard. It’s more like dirty clothes that have sat for a few days. By dealing with the water problems quickly, we’ve eliminated the ability of any secondary damage.“

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