MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Officials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have brought in crews to repair damage and dry out flooded classrooms on campus after water pipes burst in 28 buildings there in recent days.
Beyond relying on its own department of facilities, planning and management, UW-Madison has hired the private company SERVPRO Restoration Services to repair broken water pipes and clean up the mess left behind by flooding over the weekend. Crews removed desks and other items and brought in fans to dry out classrooms.
Of the buildings damaged by flooding, Vilas Hall and the Chemistry Building were in the worst shape, according to university officials. The State Journal reports Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the Faculty Senate on Monday that the flooding is “reasonably unprecedented” and that staff is trying assess the damage and clean up the mess as quickly as possible. Officials say the sub-zero temperatures seen last week, followed by a rapid thaw in the past few days, had probably weakened pipes in the buildings and led to the flooding.
“In any building, not just on our campus, you can have pipes burst,” said Meredith McGlone, a UW-Madison spokeswoman. “What was unusual was the amount of flooding that occurred.”
At Vilas Hall, water most likely started leaking between the building’s sixth and seventh floors in the middle of the night. Water flowed throughout the building for several hours before the leak was discovered, McGlone said.
The damage displaced 180 course sections on Monday and Tuesday. McGlone said that most of the classes that had to be halted at Vilas Hall had been re-started by Wednesday. Only a “handful” will still have to be held elsewhere, at least until Friday, to give crews time to repair the damage.
Although McGlone said the university has money in reserve it can draw on to repair the damage, she couldn’t say how the university plans to pay for the cleanup work.
The campus’ chemistry building is now in the midst of a $133 million renovation and expansion project. The first phase of the work will have a new 9-story tower put up along University Avenue. Most of the space inside will be used for lecture halls, teaching laboratories and group work. The second phase will remodel parts of the Daniels wing of the building. It will add teaching labs and make improvements to ventilation and fire-control systems.
Of the water pipes that burst in the old chemistry building, most were either on the building’s first floor or in the basement or sub-basement, McGlone said. She said she wasn’t aware if the damage would have any “specific impact” on the ongoing construction work at the chemistry hall.Follow @natebeck9