Rainy weekend floods Thayer Hall, West Penn basements

Very little water remained visible in Thayer Hall’s basement in the aftermath of this weekend’s flooding. Cleanup crews working throughout the floor are now mopping and sanitizing the hallways and rooms as well as making repairs to minor damages.

Written By Nicole Pampena, Co-News Editor

When first responders descended to the Thayer Hall basement Friday evening, the floodwaters were already up to four inches in some areas.

“[The water] ran through the mechanical room, that whole back lab…those were all underwater,” said Stanley Kirsnes, project manager for Massaro Restoration Services and one of the first responders. “It was rushing through the hallway because it’s a downhill slope.”

Kirsnes first received a call between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., responding shortly thereafter. Workers from Massaro then had to contain the water as Pittsburgh Water Authority struggled to find the shut off.

“Point Park and [our company] spent a lot of time in effort to redirect the water to keep it away from the maintenance shop,” Kirsnes said. “We kept the print shop completely dry.”

According to the Physical Plant Vice President of Operations Chris Hill. Thayer flooded due to a “problem with a six-inch main water line feeding the RT Patterson building.”

“Thanks to a Herculean effort from the Physical Plant and Housekeeping, the damage was mitigated there as well,” Hill said in a statement via email. “That evening, we called in a team of specialists that is currently cleaning the space.”

Thayer Hall also temporarily lost elevator access over the weekend.

“The main elevator shaft spilled up,” Kirsnes said. “The pitch below the elevators was full of water.”

Now that the water is cleared, large fans dot the hallways and rooms in Thayer’s basement. Most of the furniture is pushed to the back corners of each room with the chairs and technology stacked on top. One area still has a patchy, thin layer of mud on the floor.

“Since it was groundwater that came in, we have to clean and sanitize,” Kirsnes said.

While the source of the water in Thayer Hall came from Third Avenue, flooding in West Penn’s basement came from the river, according to Kirsnes.

“[It] began to crest on Saturday,” he said. “Point Park struggled to keep up with it, so we supplemented them with some pumps to avoid the switch gears and the electrical boxes.”

Hill said that the Ohio River reached its highest crest in more than 13 years, and that the university was prepared with sandbags and sump pumps to mitigate the damage.

Kirsnes expects cleanup to take a couple of weeks once the event has been fully stabilized and all repairs are made. Hill hopes to have the spaces back after spring break.

“Number one priority is keeping everyone safe,” Kirsnes said. “Number two is to save as much of the building as possible.”

This story has been updated since its original publication.