Flood of June 2012 still making an impact at UW-Superior - Jun 20, 2014 - University News - UW-Superior News and Events

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Flood of June 2012 still making an impact at UW-Superior

Posted on Jun 20, 2014
Campus repair work from the 25 million dollars in flood damage still continues at UW-Superior.
click to enlarge
Parking lot and street in front of the Jim Dan Hill Library in June of 2012

Parking lot and street in front of the Jim Dan Hill Library in June of 2012

The Duluth-Superior flood of 2012 is still making an impact today at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

For the third summer in a row, construction workers are digging up streets and sidewalks and repairing and installing new steam line pipes throughout campus. Many buildings are without hot water as this activity continues. But essential buildings with residents and food service do have hot water available.

During the evening hours of June 19, 2012 water rushed beneath, around and into campus buildings. Nearly all 33 buildings on campus had flood water in them, ranging from minimal to several feet.

Twelve thousand feet of steam line pipe needed to be replaced. Work is expected to be concluded by the time student's return to campus for the fall semester.

Damage estimate totals as of 2014 were approaching $25 million dollars according to Jan Hanson the former vice-chancellor, administration and finance at UW-Superior. She retired from the university in 2014. Approximately $7.6 million dollars in uninsured losses have been identified. FEMA covers 75 percent of uninsured losses. The $25 million dollars in destruction has also set a new record for a single state of Wisconsin insurance claim.

Deb Nordgren was the director of the Jim Dan Hill library at the time of the flood and she has since retired as well. Nordgren said a year ago, "It was pretty devastating for the library staff to continue to see the water rise in the lower level of the library on June 19-20, 2012. However, they rallied and within a day had moved the necessary materials and equipment to meet the needs of faculty & staff for summer session classes."

Nordgren was proud of the library staff and the campus for their hard work at a difficult time and said communication was the key. "Ultimately we were dismayed when we lost all of the materials that were in the lower level: the general book collection, periodicals, legal materials, and Wisconsin and Federal Government documents."

Laura Jacobs is the interim library director at UW-Superior and said they lost 145,000 total books in the flood of 2012. Building back that inventory takes time. Jacobs said, "As you can imagine, we are replacing many books with e-book formats if they are available. We have purchased access to over 281,000 e-books."

Jacobs says the staff is working hard to replace as much as they can, but have focused on electronic options if applicable. Jacobs added, "In contrast to our aggressive pursuit of eBooks, we currently have added 23,000 print books specifically in flood replacement. When combined with other purchases and materials in areas that weren't affected by the flood, our total print collection is about to 30,000 books, for a total collection of 310,000 books."

Additionally, many of the most significant US government publications have been digitized, and the university is purchasing access through searchable databases. Jacobs said that the library has added records for over 2,300 government print and multimedia publications, and added over 24,000 links to government electronic records in the past 18 months.

Jacobs said taking care of the students and faculty has been a top priority for staff and has been since the first day of the flood. "Our biggest focus has been on providing the quickest and most thorough access to materials for the students. That means we have focused on digital materials that are available 24/7, 365 days per year. We have added over 20,000 streaming videos - not 'movies', but materials useful for the way students work in the 21st century. We have added hundreds of electronic journals in full text."

She noted that UW System resources are also available. "We emphasize that we are part of the UW System's "One System, One Library", which allows them to search and request books for checkout from any of the UW Libraries, including Madison and Milwaukee."

The Jim Dan Hill Library continues to receive materials daily. The re-building of the collection will continue for some time.

Despite the natural disaster that hit the campus that night, resulting in nearly 25 million dollars in damage, nobody was hurt. The campus then rallied to support each other. Students, faculty, and staff helped to repair and replace what this natural disaster tore apart. The campus neighbors and business community were also there in a time that UW-Superior needed help.

A flood mitigation study is being conducted on campus now to avoid such a flood in the future. From that, plans and ideas for the future will need to be agreed upon and approved both at the local and state levels.

In the meantime, "We would love to all sleep at night when it rains," said Tom Fennessey director of facilities management.

Summer 2014 Steam Line Repair Project Information

The steam line project consists of excavating portions of existing underground campus steam lines damaged by the June 2012 campus flood.

This project is necessary to correct damaged pipe and insulation due to the steam line vaults being totally flooded during the 2012 June flood. This is the third and final project needed to complete the repairs. These repairs will result in increased longevity, higher grade insulation, waterproofing and increased energy efficiencies.

General Project Description

  • Uncovering and exposing buried steam lines
  • opening up the existing concrete boxes containing the steam lines for inspection of damage
  • removal of damaged pipe insulation
  • based on inspection results, concrete box, steam piping and supports to be fully replaced, partially replaced/repaired, or reused
  • re-insulating steam lines
  • closing up the concrete boxes and waterproofing
  • backfilling and restoration of soils and landscape to previous conditions

Project Locations

There will be six (6) main campus locations for this project. (Map PDFThis document requires Acrobat Reader to open.)

1. North side of Barstow Hall - Excavation/ Steam line inspection/ repair/ replacement/ insulating.

2. Between Old Main and Erlanson, below the overhead link and access from parking lot 7 - Demolition and replacement of old steam line and box conduit.

3. From the Marcovich Wellness Center (MWC) north along the east side of Catlin Ave. past the main entrances of Curran McNeill Ostrander Halls (CMO) north - Excavation/ Steam line inspection/ repair/ replacement/ insulating.

4. South of the Marcovich Wellness Center (MWC) from the east side of Catlin Ave east through lot 13 to the south side of MWC - Excavation/ Steam line inspection/ repair/ replacement/ insulating.

5. Corner of Mortorelli Dr. and 21st St. east of WITC - Excavation/ Steam line inspection/ repair/ replacement/ insulating.

6. North east side of Wessman Arena east to Catlin Ave - Excavation/ Steam line inspection/ repair/ replacement/ insulating.

Road and Sidewalk Closures

  • This project will require the northbound lane of Catlin Avenue to be closed from 19th Street to just south of the Yellowjacket Union parking lot, along with the adjacent sidewalk on the east side of Catlin. There will be two accesses around this area to the north and south as well as a temporary access through this area at the northwest corner of Marcovich Wellness Center to the west side of Catlin Avenue.
  • Twenty-First Street east of Mortorelli Drive near WITC will be closed.
  • Sidewalks will be closed between Old Main and Erlanson.
  • Lot 13 south of the Marcovich Wellness Center (MWC) will be closed. Alternate parking will be in lot 3A north of MWC.
  • The Duluth Transit Authority will temporarily reroute Catlin Avenue bus traffic during construction and will publish alternate routes.
  • Several sidewalks will be closed to pedestrian traffic in and near the construction sites. Alternative pedestrian routes will be open to allow access to all campus buildings.

Project Schedule

  • Construction start May 19, 2014
  • Steam shut down to north campus May 19, 2014
  • Steam shut down for all campus June 30, 2014
  • 21st St shut down east of Mortorelli Dr May 19, 2014 - July 3, 2014
  • North bound lane of Catlin Ave shut down End of May - August 18, 2014
  • Steam back on to all campus August 18, 2014
  • Substantial completion August 18, 2014

Campus impacts

There will be short term construction noise, dust and traffic during this project. General work hours will be Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adjustment of hours will be worked out with Residence Life when crews are working near the residence halls.

Due to portions of the campus steam lines being shut down, most campus buildings will not have hot water. Critical buildings, such as residence halls, MWC and the Yellowjacket Union, have auxiliary hot water heaters to provide necessary hot water to critical areas. In addition, most campus buildings will not have any heat due to the lack of steam. As this project begins in May, temperatures can be on the cool side at times.

Please be prepared for potential cooler temperatures in the buildings during the early phase of this project. It is anticipated that steam will be back on line at the end of August. Some sections of the campus may have steam service back earlier depending on the completion of the various phases of the project.


The contactors will be securing the construction sites with fencing, barricades and signage. Please use extreme caution and common sense when traveling around these areas, either by vehicle or on foot. Safety is all of our responsibility; don't always rely on others.

On behalf of the campus, your understanding and patience during the much needed project is very much appreciated.

Dustin Johnson
Facilities Project Manager
801 N 28th St. Superior, WI. 54880
(o) 715-394-8123, (c) 218-522-0602

News Contact: Dustin Johnson | 715-394-8123 | This link will open your email client for sending an email.djohns75@uwsuper.edu

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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