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Strong rains cause flooding damage in 60-plus campus buildings

July 27, 2006

A powerful noon-hour storm that dropped more than three inches of rain in central Madison caused a rash of flooding problems across the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. No major safety issues were reported involving either humans or animals. The campus is open for the remainder of day and will be open on Friday. Students who have any issues related to the flooding are encouraged to contact the Offices of the Dean of Students at (608) 263-5700.

Photo of flooding on Library Mall

Pedestrians scurry on Library Mall as inches of torrential rain deluge the UW–Madison campus, causing nearby streets and walkways to flood.

Photo: Jeff Miller

Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities, said immediately after the downpour that crews were dispatched to 68 sites as of 3 p.m. to deal with water problems across the campus. But the campus’ utility infrastructure appeared to have weathered the storm. Power was available in all campus buildings except the Athletics Ticket Office and the UW Field House. Some outages to the campus email network had been restored by 3 p.m.

“The good news is that it appears that all electrical substations and steam and chilled water lines were unaffected by the storm,” Fish said. “But we did have roof leaks and flooded basements and there were some transportation problems.”

Campus facilities officials had six operators taking calls and reported that lines were jammed with calls reporting some type of water or storm damage.

Faramarz Vakilizadeh, associate director of physical plant, said crews were also inspecting some utility tunnels for damage, though there had been no reports of damage.

The lids for storm sewers popped off in several locations, and water rushed into some buildings, both from rooftops and as water poured over curbs. Flooding also occurred on parts of Willow Creek on the west side of campus.

There were also roadway flooding problems at several sites on and near campus, including on Walnut Street between the Campus Drive overpass and the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. Minor flooding occurred on Langdon Street, University Avenue at Charter Street, and on Park Street near the railroad overpass.

Vakilizadeh said one witness reported five feet of water had swamped the Walnut Street site. And at least of foot of water was reported on Langdon Street near the Memorial Union.

Additionally, parts of Library Mall flooded during the first, lengthy downpour which registered more than 3.5 inches in a rain gauge near Hiram Smith Hall near Babcock and Observatory drives.

The Camp Randall Stadium complex was also hard-hit by the storm, with power to Kellner Hall and the Athletic Operations Building shut off because of rising flood waters, says John Chadima, associate athletic director for operations.

Nearly four feet of water accumulated in the basement of Kellner Hall. A parking lot outside of the operations building flooded and flood waters also engulfed the building’s loading dock.

Inside of Camp Randall Stadium, the deluge caused flooding from the hash marks on the football field to the third row of seating in the stadium bowl. Chadima says the stadiums FieldTurf appeared to bubble up in places and that a damage assessment would be conducted soon.

Additionally, the basement of the McClain Indoor Practice Facility flooded in three places, Chadima says.

UW Police warned that flooding hit some parking ramps especially hard, submerging vehicles in some places. The areas with severe problems included 21 North Park Street; Nielsen Pond near the School of Pharmacy; the Regent Street System Office (Lot 29); the UW Police Station (Lot 16); the second floor of Vilas Hall; Lot 57 at the Natatorium; the sewage station at 630 W. Mifflin Street; and three lakeshore residence hall buildings.

The hardest-hit academic buildings were Computer Sciences, 1210 W. Dayton Street; the Veterinary Medicine Building, 2015 Linden Drive; and the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street. All three buildings faced a combination of ground and roof flooding, as well as a broken water pipe in Veterinary Medicine and broken storm water pipes in Computer Sciences.

“It was basically raining inside the building for a while, from floor to floor to floor,” said Roger Vogts, building manager for the Memorial Union. “We have flat roofs in some places and the roof drains just couldn’t keep up.”

The Veterinary Medicine building had about 6 inches of water in the basement, partly because of a broken water pipe, and also had roof flooding and significant flooding in the loading dock area. Facilities supervisor Karen Mier said the problems did not interfere with animal safety or patient care.

Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) students were instructed how to register from home on Thursday and services were not interrupted.

Complete list of water-damaged buildings

The following buildings have sustained some degree of flood damage from the heavy rains that tore through the city on Thursday. If you are aware of damage to facilities that are not included on this list, please work with your building managers to ensure that the Physical Plant is notified.

  • Agricultural Engineering Bldg., 460 Henry Mall
  • Animal Science Building, 1675 Observatory Drive
  • Armory & Gymnasium, 716 Langdon Street
  • Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive
  • Biochemistry Addition, 433 Babcock Drive
  • Biochemistry Building, 420 Henry Mall
  • Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive
  • Bock Laboratories, 1525Linden Drive
  • Chamberlin Hall, 1150 University Ave.
  • Child & Family Studies Bldg., 1430 Linden Drive
  • Computer Sciences & Statistics, 1210 W. Dayton Street
  • Dairy Cattle Center & 6 Silos, 1815 Linden Drive
  • Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall
  • Educational Sciences, 1025 W. Johnson St.
  • Engineering Centers Bldg. Z2, 1550 Engineering Drive
  • Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive
  • Engineering Research Bldg., 1500 Engineering Drive
  • Extension Bldg., 432 N. Lake Street
  • Grainger Hall of Business, 975 University Avenue
  • Horticulture Moore Hall, 1575 Linden Drive
  • Human Ecology Building, 1300 Linden Drive
  • Humanities Building, 455 N. Park Street
  • Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive
  • Law Building, 975 Bascom Mall
  • Limnology Laboratory, 680 N. Park Street
  • Mechanical Engineering Bldg., 1513 University Avenue
  • Medical Sciences Center, 1215 Linden Drive
  • Memorial Library, 728 State Street
  • A630 W. Mifflin
  • 115 N. Mills North Hall
  • 1050 Bascom Mall
  • Nutritional Sciences, 1415 Linden Drive
  • Primate Lab, 22 N. Charter Street
  • Psychology Bldg., 1202 W. Johnson Street
  • Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street
  • Radio Hall, 975 Observatory Drive
  • Rennebohmn Hall of Pharmacy, 777 Highland Avenue
  • Russell Lab, 1630 Linden Drive
  • School of Social Work, 1350 University Ave.
  • Sellery Hall, 821 W. Johnson Street
  • Service Building, 1217 University Avenue
  • Service Mem. Inst. – Bardeen, Medical Sci., 470 N. Charter St.
  • Slichter Hall, 625 Babcock Drive
  • Social Sciences Building, 1180 Observatory Drive
  • Soils, King Hall, 1525 Observatory Drive
  • South Hall, 1055 Bascom Mall
  • Southeast Recreational Facility, 715 W. Dayton Street
  • Steenbock Memorial Library, 550 Babcock Drive
  • Stovall Bldg., Hygiene Lab, 465 Henry Mall
  • Taylor Hall, 427 Lorch Street
  • Teacher Education, 225 N. Mills Street
  • 1301-1307 University Avenue
  • Air Force ROTC, 1327 University Avenue 1610 University Avenue
  • Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive
  • Van Vleck Hall, 480 Lincoln Drive
  • Veterinary Medicine Building, 2015 Linden Drive
  • Vilas Communication Hall, 821 University Avenue
  • Waisman Center, 1500 Highland
  • WARF Office Building, 610 Walnut Street
  • Water Science & Engineering Laboratory, 660 N. Park Street
  • Weeks Hall for Geological Science, 1215 W. Dayton Street
  • Wendt Library, 215 N. Randall Avenue
  • Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park Street