By Millie Hogue
The Razorback Reporter
Students, faculty and staff continue to navigate the obstacle course of trash-barrel-sized dehumidifiers that crowd two floors of Kimpel Hall, part of the cleanup from flooding in the building nearly two weeks ago.
On Sept. 28 the valve of a fourth-floor chiller pipe failed. The leak poured more than 1,500 gallons of pink-tinted water through the building. That damaged ceiling panels, flooring and walls before flooding much of the Lemke Department of Journalism, said Mike Johnson, associate vice chancellor for facilities.
Most of the water was removed from the building the same day the flood occurred. However, excising what wasn’t visible – water that seeped into floors, carpets and cinder-block hollows inside Kimpel walls – has proved much more difficult.
“We had the extractor, and then we had the fan, and then on Oct. 1 we got this monstrosity, and it’s been in here ever since,” Carol Rachal said, referring to the large dehumidifier only a few feet from her desk.
These loud whirring machines now pack the halls of the first floor, battling a stifling humidity that settled in after the flood. Facilities workers brought in a variety of equipment to deal with the damage. Extractors funnel water into 44-gallon trash barrels stationed around the building and over the weekend dozens of fans were brought in, Johnson said. That routine is scheduled to be repeated Oct. 11-12.
“On Friday they told me I had to take everything off the walls or nail it down so it wouldn’t blow away,” said Rachal, the department’s alumni liaison. “All this equipment has been disruptive, but it’s a necessary evil.”
Two tests to monitor the air quality in Kimpel Hall showed normal results, Johnson said, but some first-floor occupants have experienced physical discomfort that they link to the flood.
“Even now my eyes are bothering me and I’m having sinus problems,” Rachal said, “and I think it’s because they’re drawing all this water from the air.”
Other side effects of the cleanup include power outages. Professor Hoyt Purvis’s office was among those most damaged by the water.
“The constant drone of the dehumidifiers and blowers can be mind-numbing and consumes a lot of power, which at least three times has resulted in my computer shutting down,” he said.
No date has been given for completing the cleanup. The Office Facilities Management will re-evaluate the situation Friday and proceed from there, Johnson said.