Wildey Theater, other buildings damaged by broken water pipes

News-DemocratJanuary 8, 2014 

Four Madison County public buildings have been damaged by burst pipes in the bitterly cold weather that struck the metro-east this week.

A water line on the first floor of the Madison County Administration Building broke on Tuesday and flooded parts of the planning and information technology departments. Spokesman Jeff Wehling said staff spent much of Wednesday cleaning up the mess and repairing the pipe.

"It caused a short in the electrical system, which sent out a fire alarm," Wehling said, but there was no fire in the building. Some carpet may have to be replaced, he said, but there was no significant damage.

"Basically we got off lucky," he said.

The Wildey Theater was not quite so lucky. A broken pipe in a vacant storefront within the city-owned theater may have ruined the flooring in the storefront and damaged a new drywall under construction.

The broken pipe was discovered by firefighters responding to an unrelated call: a heating and cooling unit on the second floor malfunctioned and caused light smoke throughout the building, which set off the smoke alarms.

City Administrator Ben Dickmann said the fire department did not find any active fire, and the building was ventilated quickly. He said Fire Chief Rick Welle is investigating the cause of the problem, but it is believed that the smoking HVAC unit and the broken pipes are not connected.

Two employees were present when the alarms went off, Dickmann said, but evacuated quickly and were not injured.

Across town, the brand-new Science Building West at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has sprung multiple leaks severe enough to shut off domestic water supply to the entire building.

Restrooms are closed and potable water will be provided to those who must work in the building, according to a bulletin from SIUE's facilities management department.

The $52 million science building was just completed this summer and dedicated in November.

Meanwhile, a sprinkler pipe at the Glen Carbon Police Department caused "extensive damage" that required moving the police dispatchers to the Madison County Sheriff's Department.

"The leak caused damage throughout the whole department," said Village Administrator Jamie Bowden.

A restoration company is trying to dry out the floors and will remove damaged carpet and baseboard. No dollar estimate is available yet for the damage, as they are waiting on the insurance adjuster, he said. In the meantime, they've moved equipment off the floor and have evacuated as much as possible out of the building, he said.

Eventually a professional contractor will put together a proposal for a full rehabilitation of the building, Bowden said. In addition to flooring, there may be drywall that needs to be removed, he said.

"Throughout this whole incident, we have maintained emergency and non-emergency services," he said. Some operations continue to function out of the building, and the emergency and non-emergency numbers are operating out of the county sheriff's office.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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