Classes canceled after wet n’ wild night in Chemistry Building

The Chemistry Building was flooded early Thursday morning by an emergency shower that accidentally ran for several hours. All three floors of the building and the basement suffered water damage to ceiling tiles, partitions, insulation and other building components, according to Curt Heuring, vice president for Facilities Management, Construction and Campus Safety.

The shower was turned on by a falling ceiling tile, according to Matt Golden, director of Communications and Public Relations. The flooding caused classes in the Chemistry Building to be canceled on Thursday, though classes resumed on Friday.

According to Heuring, the full extent of the damage is unknown at this time. While some laboratory equipment got wet in the flood, the College is waiting until the equipment dries off to test it for damage.

While the flooding may be over, the headaches for the chemistry department are just beginning. When a reporter visited Monday morning, the entrances to the building from the Chemistry-Biology Building bridge and the Metzger Drive side were blocked off with yellow “caution” tape. A sign on the door told students that “Essentials of Biochemistry” has been relocated to Forcina Hall. It did not indicate for how long the move would last.

Inside, the halls were littered with industrial strength dryers blowing hot air. The floors were riddled with cables and wires for the machines, some covered with tape, some not. A number of tiles had been knocked out, showing the ducts above. Facilities crews had drilled along the base of the walls a series of holes to let the inside wall dry. Blue painter’s tape marked the walls.

“We are hopeful that equipment damage has been minimal,” Heuring said in an e-mail. “Several chemistry classes and laboratories will need to be relocated, rescheduled or redesigned by the chemistry faculty who have persevered through this flood.”

Joyce Gaiser, chemistry department secretary, said the situation was “a mess.”

According to Gaiser, teaching labs 218, 313 and 314 have no certain date for going back into use.

“It (has) certainly set us back a little,” Pam Schmierer, Chemistry department professional services specialist, said. “But I think the school has responded in an efficient and effective way.”

Schmierer said the biggest setbacks came to the hands-on learning parts of chemistry courses, as labs have been delayed or relocated.

Other trouble, though less servere, is with the New Library building. Contractors have been working for the past two weeks on fixing the Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS) around the windows. EIFS is a material used on commercial buildings and homes that works like insulation to conserve energy and keep the building warm.

According to Heuring, the College believes that the library’s EIFS was not installed properly during the initial construction. As a result, the contractor is making the necessary repairs without charge as part of a warranty with the College.

While the work has led to portions of the sidewalk around the library and Eickhoff being closed off, it hasn’t interfered with the library itself, according to Taras Pavlovsky, dean of the library.

Pavlovsky said he hasn’t heard any complaints from library patrons or staff about the noise related to the construction.

Pavlovsky was told the work is to be completed next week.

While the building damage is yet another set of repairs for the College, Heuring said his staff was working hard on the issues.

“Facilities Management, Construction and Campus Safety are working to maintain and improve the campus environment,” Heuring said.