Campus buildings damaged by flooding


by Natalia Xibille, Staff Writer

The El Niño rainstorms that pelted Southern California last week took a toll on San Diego State and several buildings were damaged by flooding.

The flooding did varied degrees of damage to the SDSU Children’s Center, Love Library, Peterson Gym and north and south life sciences buildings.

Employees of the SDSU and Associated Students Facility Services were working on water control while SDSU police had officers responding to multiple 911 calls related to the storms.    

No injuries were reported, but many buildings received water damage, some more severe than others. 

“The library and Children’s Center were the areas that had the most significant damage,” said Brad Songhurst, senior associate director for Facility Services.

At 4:48 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5, SDSU Police received a 911 call from the Children’s Center reporting flooding. 

“Around 4:45, we noted that water was starting to trickle into the building by the doorway,” Children’s Center Director Michelle Zamora said. “Within seconds, that changed as the rain increased and the water literally came into the building.”

Water seeped into four classrooms and the office entryway. When police officials and facility service crews arrived to the scene, six inches of water was blocking the front entrance of the center.

According to Zamora, there were at least 20 staff members and slightly less than 20 children in the building at this time.

The flood was caused by a few factors, according to Glen Brandenburg, director of Facilities and Sustainability of A.S. The accumulated organic debris like leaves, dirt and branches from the drought and the high volume of storm water both caused the area to flood.

“(It was) like a miniature tsunami, literally,” Brandenburg said. “It washed up all the built-up organic material and clogged the storm drains.” 

The water at the front of the building made it unsafe for the children and staff to exit as the depth and current of the storm water was unknown upon arrival, SDSUPD Cpl. Mark Peterson said.

It took police and the facility service crews approximately 10 minutes to stabilize the situation and clear everyone out.

“As is common with some types of flooding, when the rain stops … the water tends to suddenly recede and that’s what occurred in this situation,” Peterson said. “Officers were able to safely facilitate parents to pick up their children and escort folks safely out of the building.”

To his knowledge, this was the first time the Children’s Center had ever experienced flooding.

The repairs to the center were finished Jan. 8 and included the replacement of drywall and carpet in the front area of the building. The center will be modified by engineers to prevent future flooding of the building, Songhurst said. 

The Love Library also suffered water damage, caused by broken pipes in the ceiling of the building. Different areas were affected, including the library’s computing area. Though some of the equipment in the hub was damaged, none of the damage was severe.

Repairs of the Love Library were scheduled to be completed Sunday, Jan. 17.

There was no damage to the Peterson Gym and north and south life sciences buildings as only a small volume of water trickled into the buildings.   

The total cost of the repairs will be known in approximately three weeks, Songhurst said.