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Marsh Hall Basement Flooding Response

By Anastasiia Vorobeva
On October 23, 2017

October 8, the Administration Building flooded classrooms,
a conference room and professors’ offices dismissing some classes. 
Photo By Caleb Zopp

Canceled classes or changed classrooms, closed women’s restrooms, and a strong smell of swamp filled lives of students and staff last week as one of the hallways at the ground floor of the Administration Building flooded.

     On Sunday night, October 8, torrents of water came out of the drain in the custodial closet in the hallway in the Administration Building, flooding classrooms, a conference room, and professors’ offices.

    “It looked like a creek with two ponds in the middle of it,” said a member of Concord night shift housekeeping crew. He said over 200 gallons of water was sucked out from the classrooms and offices.

    The reason for the flood was a combination of two factors – heavy rain on Sunday night and a blockage in the main sanitary line.

 When the maintenance crew attempted to snake the drains, they hit a blockage. Kevin McMillon, Trades Worker II in the  Maintenance Department, made arrangements to use Athens Sewer See Camera. The location of the blockage was identified and the spot was excavated outside of the building. Gerry Von Ville, Physical Plant Director, contacted Miss Utilities to mark the area for existing utility lines, but due to the Columbus Day holiday, there was a 48 hour waiting period.

 Escalation took place on Thursday and the blockage was removed.

     “What they got out of there is a solid mass of these tiny baby roots. That was probably gathering together for quite a while, maybe years even, till it got to the point where too much water hit these roots,” said Rick Dillon, Vice President of Administration and Associate Dean of Students.

     Throughout the week, the affected hallway was ventilated and disinfected, as there is a risk of bacteria growing in the wet environment. The night crew used Vital Oxide, a residential, commercial, and hospital disinfectant, which kills a wide range of viruses, bacteria, mold, and mildew.

     For the first days, the strong, unpleasant smell filled the ground floor of the building. “Whenever those [carpets] get wet, what they are made of smells like wet dog. Or a musty wet dog, until they are completely dry. And it probably takes two or three days of good weather, fans and drying for them to become completely dry,” said Dillon.

     Professors whose offices were located in the affected hallway fled – some moved to work in the computer lab down the hall, some to the library. Later, they were offered empty offices in Rahall or upstairs in the Administration building, which they will keep until the end of the semester. Classes were moved to other classrooms for the time of work on the affected area.

     Dr. Linwood Clayton, the Associate Professor of Recreation and Tourism Management, whose office is located in the damaged hall, said he was not as bothered by the smell as by the humidity, which made his throat sore.

     “I haven’t canceled any classes, I am just doing my best with my voice disappearing,” said Clayton.

     The administration plans to spend the next month drying up professor office space, as some areas are hard to access because of furniture. Dillon said they would move everything from a couple of offices at a time and let the carpet dry, and then move to the next offices.

     The flood did not seem to cause significant damage – some professors’ papers got soaked and will need reprinting, but nothing of significant value was lost.

     According to a press release sent out by the president’s office on Friday, Oct. 13th, the school took actions to prevent future flooding and worked on extracting any tree roots or other blockages.


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