Rain leaves Fraser Hall with stairwell waterfalls

Mark Remme

Traditionally, water parks are considered exciting regardless of style or location.

That theory, however, doesn’t apply when thrown into a University office facility.

Fraser Hall’s leaky roof has led to serious concern from faculty and staff members who work there.

Water leaked into the third floor during an Oct. 4 downpour that left some areas of the Twin Cities as much as 6 inches of rain. Water also leaked into the building during a late-September rainfall.

“I was working late on a Tuesday night and water began trickling down a light fixture like a waterfall,” said Laurel Hirt, coordinator of the Career and Community Learning Center, which is on the third floor of Fraser Hall.

The water, which in some areas was inches deep, then flowed down both the north and south stairwells, she said.

Resulting damage to the third floor included structural decay, technological setbacks and soggy documents.

Parts of the plaster ceiling fell to the ground in the narrow third-floor hallway as well as in a filing room, while roofing material came down through a hatch to the attic, ruining a small office, said Rebecca Rassier, coordinator of individualized degree programs in the College of Liberal Arts.

Computers, fax machines and printers were damaged, as were fabric partitions, said Fred Clayton, project manager of the department of Capital Planning and Project Management.

Documentation was hit by the water as it lay on the ground, Hirt said. Programming files and office historical documents got wet, but no student files on the third floor were affected, he said.

Rassier said she was frustrated by the extra work that needed to be done to read wet files and clean up debris.

The productivity goes down when people have difficulty doing their job because of damage, she said.

Orange floor fans, which lace the halls of the third level, sit still during office hours, but run nightly to dry the damp infrastructure.

Water seeped into walls, discolored the ceiling and warped a door so badly that it does not close properly, said Career and Community Learning Center student support services assistant Bruce McGuire.

The elevator shaft was damaged as well, he said.

“There was too much water on the floor and it wouldn’t all soak down the drain, so it flowed into the elevator shaft,” McGuire said. “The elevator has a chemical smell to it like there was some heavy cleaning that went on in there.”

Timing of the storm was crucial in minimizing the damage to the building and the contents inside, McGuire said.

“If that storm hits later in the evening, no one would have been here to help clean the water up and the storm would have dumped water in here all night,” McGuire said.

Frustration from faculty members looms not just in the severity of the damage left by the storm, but in the uncertainty that precautions are being met to prevent future leaks.

“Every day we expect more water to come,” Rassier said.

Clayton is confident the roof will be properly patched. He said he found the second storm’s damage hard to be averted.

Rainfall from the second storm occurred while work was still being done to repair damage from the first rainfall.

“Six inches of rain fell in three to four hours,” he said. “I don’t care how well they protect that roof, water will get in.”

The leaking roof comes on the heels of a full-scale roofing project that began this summer.

Total value of repairs has not been calculated. The project is fully insured through a builder’s risk policy, which includes contractors as responsible for paying the first $10,000 of any damage that occurs.

One Stop faculty said documents in the One Stop office, on Fraser Hall’s second floor, were not damaged.