Floodwaters hit Pittsburgh, buildings close down
On Friday, severe rains fell on Pittsburgh, causing what may have been one of the worst floods in the city since the 1930s. Carnegie Mellon suffered along with the rest of the city as students, faculty, and staff found themselves forced to endure strong winds and a heavy downpour, as well as flooding in certain areas of campus.
Flooding affected a number of buildings, with the worst damage occurring in Baker Hall. Baker, as well as Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall and certain parts of Doherty Hall, were closed to students as emergency responders tried to minimize damage.
After an external door leading to the Baker Hall A60 office complex gave way to outside flooding, A60 and the surrounding basement became completely filled with water. Firefighters and campus police tried to reduce damage while signs were posted prohibiting students from entering the basement. Although prevented from seeing the damage first-hand, onlookers watched from the Baker stairwell, trying to see the extent of the wreckage.
The damage was extensive. Giant Eagle Auditorium suffered most. While it remains to be seen how long repairs will take, Don Coffelt, Director of Facility Operations, estimates that it will be closed for three to four weeks. Offices in the A60 wing suffered serious damage as well.
Margaret Morrison was also flooded but suffered substantially less harm. The area which flooded had been recently gutted for renovations and little was lost. Nonetheless, the building was closed on Friday to students and did not reopen until Saturday. According to Sergeant William Ricci of the campus police ?our concern was that [the water] was reaching major electrical supplies, so we shut down the building until we thought it was safe.?
Wean Hall was similarly affected. Unable to handle the rain, the drainage system on the fifth-floor patio overflowed and water collected until it went under the doors and into the building. This water extended to the stairwell known as ?Architect?s Leap?, where it created a waterfall from the fifth floor. D-level of Doherty also flooded.
While these buildings may have taken on a significant amount of water, the impact was not as devastating to the school as it could have been. As Coffelt put it: ?We were really fortunate for the amount of damage we had, given the degree of flooding.? Regardless, there will be discussions in the next few weeks to discuss how the University can be better prepared to deal with an emergency situation like this in the future.