The University of New Mexico, like much of the metro area, is still cleaning up and assessing water damage from the storm this past weekend. UNM Physical Plant Department is in the early stages of evaluating the more than 30 buildings that experienced some level of leakage.

One hard hit area was Hodgin Hall, the oldest building on campus. “There is water damage on three floors of the building,” said Karen Abraham, executive director, UNM Alumni Association. “But no irreplaceable items were lost.”

Water pooled in the ceiling and along some interior walls, bubbling the paint and sending plaster crashing to the floor in the parlor. The moisture also warped planks in the hardwood floors in several rooms and caused original doorframes to peel away.

Water is reflected from the ceiling lights on the floor of the gift shop in the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
Water is reflected from the ceiling lights on the floor of the gift shop in the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

Damage in other buildings ranges from minor roof and door threshold leaks to some damage of materials at the Maxwell Museum of Antropology. The most serious damage occurred in underground facilities. UNM officials are still adding up the cost, but it appears most damage will be covered by insurance.

Mary Vosevich, director, UNM Physical Plant Department, said, “We have a highly trained, highly skilled crew, and great specialists that we can call in to help mitigate the situation.”

The first response by UNM Physical Plant is to dry out water damaged areas. Once that is complete, employees will begin to assess what needs to be repaired, replaced or restored. The goal in the early stages is to protect and preserve the materials stored within the facilities affected. Vosevich said the storm impacted nearly every section of the university, including some expensive technology in the Health Sciences Center. Lightning struck an HVAC unit and equipment had to be brought in overnight to keep the sensitive facility climate controlled.

Centennial Science and Engineering Library, which is entirely underground, suffered the worst in the deluge. Water seeped under doors, flowed down the main stairs and through the elevator shafts, damaging about 50 shelves of materials. A restoration company crew worked Sunday to box up wet materials including historic documents, some of them valuable and unique to New Mexico.

“They freeze the materials right away and ship them in a freezer truck to a processing center where they’ll be defrosted and the moisture extracted,” Nancy Dennis, associate dean of University Libraries, said. “It’s actually a very effective method to stop the damage and restore the documents.”

Fans and dehumidifiers have been placed throughout the library to reduce humidity and facilitate drying. Centennial Library has been reopened while restoration work continues.

“We’re pretty good at emergency response on this campus, and we will be up and running before the semester begins,” Vosevich said, expressing confidence in the work that her team can provide to ensure the campus's recovery.

The Physical Plant Department recently received the APPA Award for Excellence for 2014, which highlights the essential role of facilities operations in the overall institutional mission and vision.

Insurance adjusters are now going through the campus to calculate all of the damage. An estimate could come in the next couple weeks.