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Imholte Hall flood cleanup progressing well

Workers vacuumed up water at UMM's Imholte Hall Wednesday afternoon after a sprinkler pipe burst and flooded much of the building.1 / 7
UMM's Imholte Hall sustained extensive damage when a sprinkler pipe burst Wednesday afternoon.2 / 7
At least seven faculty offices sustained heavy water damage when a sprinkler pipe burst in UMM's Imholte Hall Wednesday afternoon.3 / 7
Robert Thompson, an official with UMM's Plant Services Department, helps with the clean-up effort after a burst sprinkler pipe flooded a large portion of Imholte Hall Wednesday afternoon.4 / 7
Water gushed from this sprinkler pipe after a fitting burst, flooding a large area of UMM's Imholte Hall Wednesday afternoon.5 / 7
A sprinkler pipe fitting may have broken due to freezing, causing significant flood damage in UMM's Imholte Hall Wednesday afternoon.6 / 7
Photo courtesy Miller Dunwiddie Architecture.7 / 7

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Clean-up efforts are progressing exceptionally well Thursday at the University of Minnesota, Morris' John Q. Imholte Hall after a third-floor sprinkler pipe burst Wednesday afternoon and flooded a large portion of the three-story classroom and office building.

"The staff has done an amazing job so far," Dave Aronson, a Project Manager for UMM's Plant Services Department said Thursday afternoon. "It's in much better shape than you would think it could have been if you saw it Wednesday."

UMM maintenance and custodial staff have been working on the cleanup almost around the clock since UMM officials and the Morris Fire Department received a page at 2:27 p.m. Wednesday that a sprinkler pipe had ruptured.

The offices, seminar rooms and classrooms on the south end of the building were most affected by the flooding.

The building's Cow Palace lecture hall and a larger computer lab on the north end of the building were not immediately affected by the flooding. A second computer lab was flooded, but students and staff were able to remove computers before they were damaged.

At least seven faculty offices, however, were severely flooded, as were at least two seminar rooms and a conference room on the third floor on the building's south end. Another seminar room on the second floor also was flooded, Aronson said.

Cheryl Contant, UMM's Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean, is working on possible relocation plans if needed, but so far most of the faculty affected by the flooding have found other work space in the building or are working from home, Aronson said.

UMM staff vacuumed up the standing water on Wednesday, then got blowers and dehumidifiers running. Some carpeting and rubber backing has been removed in an attempt to dry wall board, Aronson said.

Dale Livingston and UMM's Environmental Health Department are monitoring the moisture, mold and mildew, Aronson said.

The university's insurance carrier has been notified, the company that installed the sprinkler system will be repairing the pipe, and insulation installers also will evaluating damage.

Imholte Hall has 18 faculty offices on three floors -- most of them are on the third floor -- as well as lab space, seminar rooms and classrooms, Aronson said.

Imholte Hall was formerly the Social Sciences Building and was renamed to honor former UMM Chancellor John Q. Imholte in 2005.

Imholte Hall was built in 1920, and an addition was constructed in 1949. In 2006, a renovation of the building was completed.

UMM officials will be working on damage estimates, but the progress has been significant, Aronson said.

"It's an amazing difference in less than 24 hours," he said.