Campus Facilities Jumps To Action As Rain Floods Multiple Buildings


Kiffer Creveling

The University of Utah Campus Store on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

By Devin Oldroyd, News Writer


On Sunday, Aug. 1, the University of Utah campus was soaked by the storm that reached much of northern Utah, causing flooding in various places around campus.

One of many buildings on campus affected by flooding was the U Hospital.

“I don’t think any of us were expecting [the storm],” said the Executive Director for the U Hospital Allison Flynn Gaffney. “We had minor to medium issues [Sunday] night and through to Monday morning; at no time was patient care disrupted.”

According to PR and Strategic Communications Specialist of Campus Facilities Wes Mangum, as many as 20 buildings sustained water damage caused by flooding.

“Restoration work [on these buildings] has already started,” Mangum said. “In addition, landscaped areas throughout campus were flooded and [will also need] restoration.”

Campus Facilities worked to respond to the many incidents of flooding that occurred around campus and successfully kept all campus operations from being interrupted during the storm.

“In a situation like this, a large part of the situation is responding as soon as it happens and as it develops,” Mangum said. “As soon as we became aware of the floods, we had members of our facilities team on site.”

The Campus Store was also among the many buildings affected by Sunday’s storm, despite already having precautionary measures in place.

“The store has seen heavy rain like this before, but not often,” said Campus Store Marketing Coordinator Nikayla Spriggs. “We have implemented more advanced drainage systems, [however] this was unique because of the amount of debris in the area. [It] ended up clogging our drainage systems.”

The clogged drainage systems resulted in flooding, causing minimal damage to the building, merchandise and fixtures within the building.

“We will have to spend some time cleaning up all of the water and silt,” Spriggs said. “As well as shampoo and steam clean some areas of the store.”

The A. Ray Olpin Student Union was another building impacted by the storm.

According to the Facilities & Operations Manager of the Union, Ben Crookston, it was faced with flooding in the basement, leaving behind mud and water but no serious damage. Crookston estimated that at least two days of clean-up would be needed until the building was fully recovered.

After Sunday’s storm, the Union is working to better prepare for future storms of this nature.

“[We] hope to fully seal the foundation from outside water,” Crookston said. “How this can be done, [we are] not sure at this time.”

Moving forward, Campus Facilities intends to set up more preventative measures around campus to help better prepare for storms such as this one while continuing what they already have in place.

According to Chief Facilities Officer Robin Burr, the U will be using multiple sump pumps around campus, even installing them permanently in certain areas.

A sump pump is a device, often found in basements, used to remove water after incidents of flooding. Water is collected through a building’s drainage system and deposited in the basin of the building’s sump pump, where it is then pumped out.

Facilities will also be updating some landscaped areas around campus.

“We learned that wood chips can travel a long distance in a flood, and they clog up storm drains,” Burr said. “Small rocks do a better job of staying in place.”

For future flood prevention, the Campus Facilities will be further evaluating campus’ stormwater infrastructure.

To learn more about these preventative measures, visit the Campus Facilities website.


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