UW-Madison: Strong Rains Cause Flooding Damage in 30-Plus Campus Buildings

MADISON – 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

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

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.

Officials were advising people on campus who were safe and unaffected by the storm
to remain in their workplaces and avoid traveling around the campus area because of
the flooding and detours.

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.

UW Police warned that flooding hit some parking ramps especially hard, submerging
vehicles in some plases. 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.

At the Animal Science Building, officials considerede evacuating research animals
from the basement due to flooding, but the building’s sub-basement bore the brunt of
the incoming water, according to department administrator Sheila Pink.

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