The English department rang in the new year with a bit of rainy weather inside its Decker Hall home. Faculty have dubbed it the “Great English Department Flood of 2018” on Twitter.
A frozen heating pipe burst in an English department office on the third floor of Decker Hall sometime on Jan. 1, causing the “Great Flood.”
The flooding primarily affected the English department, but also extended to the second and first floors of Decker Hall.
“The entire English department suite had up to two inches of water on the floor,” said Joe Royer, director of facilities and the physical plant department.
Although the flood damage was not as extensive outside the English department, the water leakage affected offices in the Department of Student Life on the second floor and even the president and provost’s offices on the first floor. The cost of damage has yet to be determined, but expenses will be covered by AU’s insurance.
“The problem was discovered by campus police at approximately 7:30 p.m. on New Years Day evening,” said Royer. “We have no idea how long the flooding had been occurring before the problem was discovered.”
Housekeeping and physical plant employees responded promptly to the incident and remained on site from 8:00 p.m. on Jan. 1 to approximately 3:30 a.m. the next morning. The initial clean up process involved shutting off the water to prevent further flooding and vacuuming the water from the affected areas on all three floors.
“The repair itself was relatively simple to make, although it took a long amount of time to get the pipe repaired due to the need to drain the heating system in order to make the repair,” said Royer. “That pipe was not actually fixed until the next morning.”
Although the pipe was fixed quickly after the heating system was drained, reversing the damage caused by the flooding was a longer process. An outside company was called in to begin drying out the walls and carpet, as the damage required special equipment. The process was not completely finished until Saturday, Jan. 6.
In the meantime, English faculty faced the obstacle of planning and preparing for the quickly approaching second semester without access to their office resources, including their computers, which had been removed from the offices during the cleaning and drying process. English Professor Liz Ranfeld did not receive access to her computer until classes had already begun.
“On the Tuesday before classes, I was still waiting to get my computer back, so I spent the day cleaning my office and rearranging furniture instead of finalizing my syllabi and class schedule,” said Ranfeld. “That is all work that I’m able to do at home, though, so I was not really behind by the time classes started on Wednesday.”
Although most of the damage caused by the flooding was reserved to carpeting, materials that had been left near or on the floor when the pipe burst were ruined, including some books that had been left in boxes on the floor. Ranfeld was most disappointed to see archives from the annual Indiana Faith and Writing Conference damaged.
“I didn’t lose a lot in the flood, but our Indiana Faith & Writing Conference archive box was on my office floor,” said Ranfeld. “It had all of our copies of the IFWC programs, postcards and promotional materials. I still have the digital versions, but it’s disappointing to lose those materials.”
Despite the difficult start to the semester, English faculty have returned to their offices and are again able to access their computers and other resources.