Scheman flood damage estimate waits on mechanical room drying

The basement of the Scheman Building is shown flooded Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010.

Dylan Boyle

Officials with Iowa State Center will have to wait until water in the Scheman Building mechanical room is pumped out to determine the extent of damage to the building and how long it will be before the building reopens.

Mark North, director of Iowa State Center, said administrative offices on the ground floor of the Scheman Building took on about 3 ½ to 4 feet of water after Tuesday night’s storm. The first and second floors of the building didn’t take on any water.

Crews from ServiceMaster have been working to pump out water in the mechanical room and installed an air conditioning line up to the Brunier Art Museum on the second floor.

With water in the mechanical room, the Scheman Building has no power, no air conditioning and no lighting, he said.

North said he couldn’t speculate on the cost of damages to the building since facilities staff will have to determine the condition of electrical and air conditioning units submerged in the mechanical room. After the flood of 1993, North said the units in the Scheman Building were replaced with waterproof units, and he hopes it is only a matter of washing and drying them.

He said the flood damage is very comparable to the ’93 flood, as water levels were almost the same outside and inside the building.

Until the room is dry, it is unclear how long recovery will take.

“A lot is just going to depend on what we find and when we get the water out of the mechanical room,” he said. “Worst-case scenario, it could be six to eight weeks.”

A berm dike installed around the Maple-Willow-Larch residence halls after the 1993 flood saved the building from water damage on Wednesday, and North said the idea of a similar system around the Iowa State Center wouldn’t be a bad idea.

“It’s been discussed a number of times, in reality that’s a question that really needs to be answered by the administration,” he said. “Personally, I would love it because I don’t like doing this.”

North said that Iowa State Center staff had been in the building and was going through wet items to determine if they were worth salvaging. Some files, he said, will be lost for good. The staff has relocated its office to CY Stephens Auditorium.

As for events in Scheman, North said they are currently evaluating the size and number of events that were scheduled and trying to move them to other places in Ames before canceling them.

Fisher Theater, which had no damage, and Stephens Auditorium are currently up and running. Stephens did have some water from a sanitary sewer backup caused by rain on Monday night that escalated during the storm on Tuesday night. North expects events in Stephens to go forward as planned.