Fieldhouse Flooded


    By Erin Pierce

    The Smith Fieldhouse flooded Saturday morning after a water main broke, saturating portions of the buildings with more than 5 feet of water.

    All classes in the Fieldhouse will be canceled Monday, said university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.

    The flooding also impacted the Richards Building, the Student Athlete Building and the Indoor Tennis Courts.

    University officials say a water probe alarm went off around 6:40 a.m., which signaled the flooding. Water quickly filled up tunnels that house high-voltage electrical systems under the buildings. Physical Facilities responded and turned the water line off by 8 a.m. By 9 a.m. power to the three athletic buildings was shut down for safety precautions.

    Although maintenance crews were concerned the water may have posed an electrical hazard, no one was injured and an electrical employee said much of the electrical gear in the Fieldhouse was waterproof.

    Because of the extreme volume of water, it has been difficult to do extensive damage analysis, Jenkins said. Officials did not offer a damage estimate, but BYU?s Risk Management and Safety Director Glenn Johns said the buildings should be usable soon.

    When electrical shop employee Reed Guymon opened the door to room 90 in the Fieldhouse, he thought he might have discovered the location of the break.

    ?When I opened the door, that water came gushing out, just like Old Faithful,” Guymon said. Water also collected in the inner ring of the indoor track.

    Although flooding hit many offices and storage rooms, it significantly affected seven offices and a storage room in the Fieldhouse basement, including the assistant coaches offices of women?s volleyball, basketball and golf, Jenkins said. Water climbed about 5 and a half feet and leaked out the windows. No water entered the RB. A few inches of water entered the basement of the Student Athlete Building.

    Physical facilities personnel, including electrical, mechanical, plumbing and grounds, were onsite working throughout the day Saturday and into the night.

    Utah Disaster Kleenup also assisted with pumps and cleanup. Provo City provided pumps as well.

    In all, nearly 85 people helped out Saturday.

    KBYU production assistant Megan Egbert was in the Fieldhouse preparing to tape the Boy Scout Powwow scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. However, an alarm announced the water?s presence much earlier.

    ?The fire alarm came on, and I just ignored it,? Egbert said after she exited the Fieldhouse. ?All of a sudden, water started spewing out onto the [Indoor] tennis courts. Then when we went outside ? we saw water rushing from the doors of the Smith Fieldhouse.?

    On the Fieldhouse?s ground floor, about a dozen offices and a dozen storage rooms all had a few inches of water. The volleyball court also had water underneath the wood layer. None appeared on top. Around the track stood four to six inches of water.

    Despite the lingering pools that almost reached doorknobs of some coaches? offices, most grounds crew personnel seemed upbeat and anxious to get their job done. Many even found a lighter side while directing bewildered students away from the damaged structures. Merilee Peterson, manager of the Richards Building, and two co-workers sat outside the south entrance to the RB and informed students of the closure.

    ?We couldn?t help but laugh,? Peterson said of the students, seemingly oblivious to the police cars, draining pumps and ?building closed? signs taped to the doors. ?It was really funny– they looked so puzzled!? Peterson said.

    Boy Scouts were present for the 50th Anniversary BYU/UVSC Merit Badge Powwow. About 200 people were evacuated from the RB, leaving some classes canceled. A few coaches were evacuated from the Fieldhouse as well.

    Mitchell Jorgenson, 11, a second-class scout, came from American Fork to attend.

    ?Holy cow, that?s a lot of water!? said Jorgenson as his eyes widened at the sight of shooting streams of water draining from the Fieldhouse. ?That?s crazy!?

    Scouts gathered in the Fieldhouse?s north parking lot and leaders redirected them to other buildings to work on their merit badges.

    ?We had to cancel our opening ceremony,? Jorgenson said. ?But I didn?t really mind it.? He still earned the badges he signed up for.

    Power to the RB and the Student Athlete Building was restored by noon and 1:30 p.m. respectively.

    On Sunday, two stake conferences slated for the Fieldhouse relocated to the DeJong Concert Hall.

    Meanwhile, cleanup crews worked through Sunday to drain the water. Egbert sympathized with them.

    ?I feel bad for the people who have to clean it up. It?s worse than a guy?s apartment,? Egbert said.

    Matthew Pruitt contributed to this article

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