College Buildings in Repair after Heavy Flood

Many buildings around the College are undergoing repairs after a heavy rainstorm caused flood damage Nov. 11-14. (Photo by Kevin Baier)
Many buildings around the College are undergoing repairs after a heavy rainstorm caused flood damage Nov. 11-14. (Photo by Kevin Baier)

Several buildings around campus were left water-damaged after a severe rainstorm in St. Mary’s County during the week of Nov. 9, raising concerns about the extent of the damage and the best ways, if any, for repairs to be made.

The storm crossed several Bay-lined counties from Nov. 11-14, hitting the Patuxent and Potomac River Corridors with 0.25 inches of rainfall and a coastal flood warning on Nov. 13.  During the course of the week, the accumulating water levels caused minor floods in several of St. Mary’s 47 buildings on campus, including Goodpaster and Montgomery Hall, the library, and the newly-built Glendening Hall.

“[The flood] was a minor one,” said Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library and Media Center, after finding a leak in the ceiling of the multimedia lab.  Noticing that the lab was wet after “taking one more look around,” Rabinowitz was able to move furniture and computers to prevent permanent damage to any supplies in the room.  “[We’ve] never had any materials get damaged,” she said.  No books or library-owned items were damaged during the flood.

Montgomery Hall faced a similar problem.  “We didn’t have the electrical problems other buildings had to worry about,” said Joe Lucchesi, Department Chair of Art and Art History, after the rainwater formed a large hole in the art studio ceiling across from his office.  Discovered Wednesday, Nov. 11, the studio became too small for use once the equipment had to be moved away from the damaged side of the room.

Rain also found its way into the shop area outside of the studio, from where some student artwork had to be moved to prevent damage.

The floors outside the lecture hall of Goodpaster Hall were heavily damaged from the storm, as rain accumulated under the bamboo-covered floorboards and raised portions of the panels.  Leaks also appeared in the equipment room of the lecture hall, where much of the electric equipment is stored.  On the other side of the room, another leak caused paint damage on the walls and led to a water-filled carpet on the ramp by the classroom steps.

The Physical Plant responded fairly quickly to the reported damage, assessing Goodpaster, Glendening, and Montgomery Halls, as well as the library, in the days following the flood.  While the ceiling tiles were replaced in the library, the water-damaged portion of the ceiling was removed in the Montgomery studio.  Floor repairs are still being made in Goodpaster Hall, but the equipment room and HVAC system are functional.

“They’ve been really responsive and good at getting things fixed when they needed to be fixed,” Rabinowitz said.
The Physical Plant includes grounds and housekeeping, mechanical trades (which includes HVAC systems around campus), and general support (including the mail room), and is in charge of handling maintenance repairs in the event of a flood.
Derek Thornton, Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations at the Physical Plant, said that while new buildings like Goodpaster Hall, Glendening Hall, and the River Center would be covered under warranty for flood damage, “other buildings are our responsibility.”

For Glendening Hall, Goodpaster Hall, and the River Center, which also received damage during the week’s events, the building contractors were on-site the next day to assess the damage.  For the older buildings on campus no longer under warranty, including the library and Montgomery Hall, the Physical Plant was in charge of surveying any flood-related problems.

While the Physical Plant’s operational budget has not been impacted by the economic problems facing the College, the budget of its departments has been somewhat affected.  “We lost various positions from our Housekeeping and Trades departments,” said Thornton, “so there was some impact on our budget as it pertains to staffing.”

Classrooms have resumed use in Montgomery and Goodpaster Halls, and the computer lab in the library is still functional.  While the kitchen in Glendening Hall received damage, the building as a whole has not closed for repair, and neither has the River Center.

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