Broken Pipe Floods Johnson Center Classroom

A pipe burst on the second floor of the Johnson Center Monday afternoon, Sept. 11, leading to a student evacuation and a classroom closure.
Water pooled on the floor of U-125 immediately following the incident. / el Don

A pipe burst on the second floor of the Johnson Center Monday afternoon, Sept. 11, leading to a student evacuation and a classroom closure.

Students attending a theater class in U-125 heard a loud boom at 2:35 p.m., when water began to fall from the center of the ceiling.

“I asked the students to move to one side of the room because we were videotaping a student, and then we heard this loud noise that sounded like a freight train and then we saw water. It kind of looked like fire sprinklers,” said first year Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Amberly Chamberlain, who was the class instructor when the pipe burst.

Chamberlain ran outside and was unable to notify construction or janitorial staff of the flood and to locate the water shut-off valve. Chamberlain flagged down a student to call SAC Security after she could not get cell phone service.

The water pressure soon increased and tiles started falling from the ceiling, filling the room with large amounts of water.

“We didn’t know rather to duck and cover like you would in the events of an earthquake, or if we should run and get out of the building immediately,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain knew the classroom was no longer safe, and she evacuated her students to U-103 until the whole building was evacuated to the Johnson Center patio 30 minutes later.

The professor and a few of her students were able to save their camera equipment, but a monitor was destroyed when the pipe burst.

Visiting the premises Sept. 12, large-scale hoses and fans lay scattered in the building after work was done to drain and dry the flooded water.  Another visit Sept. 13 revealed most of the flood damage was controlled, besides water damage on the walls surrounding the stairs on the first floor.

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Twenty ceiling panels were missing on both floors of the Johnson Center, where it was reported to SAC security personnel the flood occurred.

The Johnson Center was previously closed and scheduled for demolition, but demolition plans halted when the faculty and students of SAC’s Music building were relocated to the Johnson Center Spring 2017.

The Phillips Hall Theatre, located on the southwest side of campus, was closed due to the unsafe structure of the beams located at the base of the roof. Due to the risk of a possible cave-in, theater students were moved to the Johnson Center this semester.

“We are hoping that we will be placed back in Phillips Hall by Oct. 9 in hopes we will have the facility for our next theater production, ‘Heathers’,” Chamberlain said.

SAC Sgt. Ray Wert stated the building would be safe for students and faculty and should not lead to any further problems.

Nikki Nelsen

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