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Pittsburgh hit with rain; campus floods

The recent flood that swept across the city not only damaged campus buildings, but also damaged students’ property in basement storage. (credit: Thomas Hofman/Photo Editor) The recent flood that swept across the city not only damaged campus buildings, but also damaged students’ property in basement storage. (credit: Thomas Hofman/Photo Editor)

On Aug. 19, during the afternoon, a thunderstorm swept across Pittsburgh, covering the city in nearly two inches of rain. The storm resulted in severe flooding on campus. Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall, Newell-Simon Hall, and the FMS building were hit the hardest and suffered the most damage from the flood. FMS workers were immediately called to the buildings to start the clean-up process and repair damages.

“The sources of these floods are two very large, brick-lined sewers which drain much of the Squirrel Hill and Bellefield areas of the city,” said Jim Skees, the director of building facilities for the School of Computer Science, in an e-mail. “[T]hese two sewers join together in a mixing box and that box empties into a line which is significantly smaller in cross section than the two lines which feed it. So one doesn’t have to be an engineer to understand why, during very heavy rains ... these sewers back up and flood.... This flooding not only causes damage to any laboratory equipment within a few feet of the floor, but it also poses a major health hazard and stops research work from taking place in those labs until it is cleaned up.”