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DPAC’s basement floods, delays football awards ceremony

| Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Repairs of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) are set to continue this week in response to a flood that damaged the lower level of the building on Dec. 12.

The flood was caused by a break in a six-inch water line that served DPAC’s fire protection system, University spokesperson Dennis Brown said. The exact cause of the water line break is unknown, he said.

“There are currently several theories as to why [the break] occurred, but we may never know the exact cause,” Brown said. “We have taken several measures to reinforce this connection and are evaluating similar connections in other buildings.”

Brown said mechanical and electrical equipment in the DPAC mechanical room, as well as lower level floors and walls were damaged. The flood also resulted in a 45-minute delay of a football awards ceremony being held in the building, DPAC facilities manager Alex Scheidler said.

Scheidler said there were initially six inches of water in most rooms on the lower level of the building and three feet of water in the mechanical room where the break occurred. A quick response by the University prevented further damage, he said.

“It was amazing because by that night, the first response team stayed all night,” he said. “So they arrived at about 10 p.m. give or take, and they were here until 6 in the morning – and then another crew came and replaced them and they worked through the day Saturday.”

Film, Television and Theater (FTT) department chair Jim Collins said because of this quick response, the flooding did not impact students’ final exams. The impact of the damage will continue to be minimal for both students and faculty, he said.

“Since the flooding occurred on the Friday night before exam week, the response crews were able to make significant head-way over the weekend,” Collins said. “The impact on FTT courses was limited to moving final exams to other locations in the DPAC on the Monday of exam week. The classrooms on the lower level were at least operational for test-taking the rest of the week. We’ve been given the “all-clear” to go back to using the classrooms as we did before but we’ll know more after the first week of the semester.”

However, there is still more to be done in the coming weeks, Brown said.

“There are still repairs going on as the baseboard material had to be ordered, some of the floor tiles became loose and needed to be replaced and the carpet in several offices is being replaced,” he said.

Scheidler said what’s been accomplished so far is already impressive.

“The response on the University’s part … the fire chief said he’s worked at other places and he said in the real world, this wouldn’t be happening, Scheidler said. “… Normally, in another building somewhere in town if this had happened, you’d just have caution tape and no one would be going in the space except the people working to clean it up. So it was remarkable to have all the resources and a quick response.”

But the flood still provides an opportunity for improvement, Scheidler said.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to improve things, as far as evacuation and things like that,” he said. “There are things we are able to improve — they went well, but it’s an opportunity to see what could be better. That’s the good that comes out of it.”

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