Construction crews work to cleanup flooding, reopen ground floor of PCL

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Blackmon Mooring commercial manager Mark Roth, right, takes his staff on a tour of the Perry-Castañeda Library basement to determine where to place an additional 150 fans on Saturday, May 5, 2019. The basement flooded Friday night when water came in through the new UT Welcome Center entrance.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

After the first floor of the Perry-Castañeda Library flooded last Friday, construction crews have been working to clean up and reopen the floor by late next week. 

Travis Willmann, UT Libraries communication officer, said a student reported water entering the building around 10 p.m. Friday. Flooding on the ground level reached the map room, office spaces and the construction site for the Admissions Welcome Center.

“We had people here almost right away,” Willmann said. “They were putting up barriers outside to keep any more water from flowing in, and they began getting a hold of (the contractor) to start the process of making sure that we were able to clear all the water from the building.”

Jill Stewart, associate director of Project Management and Construction Services, said because the storm dropped a large volume of rain in a short time, the new drainage system at the Admissions Welcome Center site was not equipped to handle that amount of water.

“This is not unusual or considered a failure of the system; it’s simply an in-progress state,” Stewart said in an email. “Due to the nature of incomplete work, the site had not been graded in such a way to purposefully direct water away from the Welcome Center site.”

 

To prevent future flooding, construction crews made site adjustments including creating a trench to redirect the water and removing caps from some of the new drain pipes, Stewart said. 

“These quick actions at the site, along with the rain slowing, allowed the drainage system to catch up with the volume of water,” Stewart said in an email. “The design and construction team will be evaluating drainage patterns in the area of the new Welcome Center entrance in more detail.”

About two dozen library employees have been relocated from ground floor office spaces as cleanup efforts continue. Only 10 library resources were damaged in total from the flooding,
Willman said.

“There were 10 maps that were damaged, but they were not damaged irreparably, so they were immediately taken to our preservation unit,” Willmann said “They are fully recoverable and should be fine.”

The map room will remain closed to students until further notice.

“That’s just one less space that’s available on-site for students to use for studying,” Willmann said. “Students need to call the collection number on the library website in order to get access to specific maps.”

Library Copier Services on the ground floor reopened for student use on Monday, Wilmann said.

“We know this is a sensitive time of the semester because final projects are coming and a lot of people use that service to get posters printed,” Willmann said. “(UT Libraries) wanted to make sure that service was available to people right away.”

Nursing junior Natalie Nevlud said she goes to the PCL almost every day and sees an increase of students in the library during this time of year.

“I didn’t even realize this many people came to this school until it’s finals, and (the library) is swarmed with people,” Nevlud said. “With the ground floor closed, it definitely makes the rest of the library busier.”

UT Libraries will continue to post updates to their website and social media.