Update: UCLA Facilities Deal With Aftermath Of Water Main Break

Kevin J. Borg UCLA
Kevin J. Borg

It’s been several days since a major pipe burst on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles flooded portions of the UCLA campus, namely numerous athletic facilities. Among the affected facilities: Pauley Pavilion (home of UCLA basketball, renovated in 2012); JD Morgan Center (houses UCLA Hall of Fame); John Wooden Center (houses various sports facilities); and Acosta Athletic Training Center.

Shortly after the disaster, TFM spoke with Kevin J. Borg, Assistant Athletic Director, Facilities and Project Management, UCLA Intercollegiate Athletics Department about what he and his team did when the campus began flooding, and how the recovery looks. Borg notes he’s dealt with floods several times on the campus, so he has experience. Still, the magnitude of the water rushing in during this week’s emergency event called for all hands on deck.

Photo: Courtesy of Kevin J. Borg.

TFM: When did you hear about the flood, and what’s the first thing you did?

Borg: The first I heard of it was at 3:30 pm on Tuesday [July 29]. Someone came into the office and said, “Lot 4 is flooding and it’s rising.” I sent an e-mail to let people know that if they were parked in Lots 4 or [the nearby] Lot 7, they should move their vehicles. Today, we still have more than 900 vehicles there.

From that, we then turned on the television. Once I saw what was happening, I went to the front of the Hall of Fame to see where the water was running, and we took action. We grabbed as many towels as we could from our equipment room. We took conference tables we have that are the same depth and width as a 6′ door, and propped the legs open against doors. Each table worked as a dam. We did that in the font of the Hall of Fame, which helped mitigate 12″… 14″… maybe 18″ of water from coming in. Every single employee on-site was squeegeeing, brooming, sweeping, bucketing the water out of the Hall of Fame.

From there, I left a crew in charge and went down to Acosta and waded through about 3′ of water to get down there. We had a crew there also sealing up doors as best as possible. We had just finished removing a lot of soil from our football field, and we used that in front of doors to create a dam. This stopped a lot of the seepage into buildings. Meanwhile, we had concrete pavers on pallets nearby from a project we just completed; these measure 12″x 60″x4″. We stood those on end, and they became water diverters. These were impromptu decisions; we used the resources we had available.

When the fire department arrived, it focused its efforts on Pauley Pavilion. They also used the concrete pavers to divert water. They also used soil there, packing it up against the doors on the exterior. This helped mitigate the amount of water that intruded into the buildings.

The water was evacuated by Wednesday morning.

TFM: What is the status of the affected facilities?

Borg: We are in the dry out phase. We have several companies working with us; and they are in the process of having blowers and dehumidifiers in all of my facilities.

In the Hall of Fame, all of the memorabilia is safe. After a flood in 1999 we built the cases and displays to keep memorabilia up off of floor.

For Pauley Pavilion, we are still in the assessment stage. The floor had about 8″ of water. There are locker rooms and training rooms on the first level, and water intruded through the concrete decks and by the entrances. Structurally, we are fine. About 80% of everything we’re going to do for restoration is going to be patching, painting walls, and replacing carpet.

The floor is our number one concern. We are drying out every square inch possible at this point. And, we will make an assessment and determination how to proceed. Our first basketball game in on October 30 and we plan to play in there this season.

Other than having to replace carpet in the Morgan Center/Hall of Fame, we are all but dry; we are removing the remaining moisture out of the air.

In Acosta, there are just three rooms where they are pulling out the carpet today. We’ll continue blowing those rooms to make sure the drywall is dry. They will then spray an antimicrobial product into the walls to prevent any potential of mold or mildew growing.

The Giff Building [the on-campus practice facility for golf] was actually the building that divided the flood, east and west, across the campus. In there, the drywall and carpet were saturated. We are drying those out. The walnut cabinetry in there was built upon pressure treated lumber so it’s not resting on the floor. Again, we built things so that we had anywhere from a ¼ to ½ inch margin for moisture to infiltrate the area.

In my areas, we are beyond the recovery; we’re in the restoration process. Everyone put in 100% effort during the event. Our CFO, our senior directors, so many people were out there shoveling and brooming water. We’re having parents calling to ask if they can come out to help.


courtesy Kevin J. Borg
Photo: Courtesy Kevin J. Borg



Earlier story from TFM, July 30: From the UCLA Newsroom and the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water

A city of Los Angeles water main ruptured under Sunset Boulevard on 7/29/14, opening a large hole in the pavement that closed the street during rush hour and flooded parts of UCLA’s north campus.

The 93-year-old steel pipe broke at 3:39 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Water flow through the pipe was estimated at 75,000 gallons per minute at the peak. An estimated eight to 10 million gallons of water flowed toward the campus or into storm drains.

UCLA Flood
Photo: Christelle Nahas/UCLA

UCLA’s intramural field, North Athletic Field and Drake Stadium — where a new blue and gold track was recently installed — were quickly inundated. Water spilled into underground parking structures 4 and 7, partly submerging dozens of vehicles, and pooled in Bruin Plaza.

Campus officials were especially concerned about standing water on the floor of Pauley Pavilion, UCLA’s iconic arena. “Unfortunately, Pauley Pavilion took quite a bit of water,” Chancellor Gene Block said at an evening news conference aired live on Los Angeles television. “It’s painful.” Officials said that damage to Pauley Pavilion, the adjacent John Wooden Center, and the parking structures would be assessed immediately. The building underwent a significant renovation in 2012.

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said later in a statement, “we are still gathering information and, to the extent possible, assessing the damage to our athletic facilities affected by the water main break. Regarding specific inquiries and concerns about Pauley Pavilion, most people are aware by now that the floor and locker rooms sustained significant flooding. The water will be removed from the floor tonight. We will then reassess the situation…and be able to provide additional information at the appropriate time.”

No one was reported injured during the incident. Los Angeles Fire Chief James Featherstone said that 160 firefighters responded to campus, searched more than 200 vehicles and helped five people to safety. Operations at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center were not affected.

The campus will open as scheduled. “Buildings and operations related to our academic enterprise, residence halls, and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center have been unaffected,” Block said in a message to the campus community.

The 30″ main that broke carries water under high pressure from the city’s Stone Canyon Reservoir in the mountains above UCLA. When the water began flowing on campus, crews stacked sand bags in front of the north end of Pauley Pavilion and closed off flooded areas. Water poured down stairwells into the parking structures amd got inside the Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Authorities quickly restricted access to parking structures 4 and 7, forcing commuters to find alternative transport off campus. UCLA has set up a system for those who may have vehicles stranded in the parking structures.

The city Department of Water and Power began gradually shutting off the water around 5 p.m. Officials said that turning off the water had to be done slowly to prevent additional pipe ruptures. Sunset Boulevard was closed between Hilgard Avenue and Veteran Avenue

Three emergency response vendors have been contracted: one for Pauley Pavilion, which re-opened in October 2012 after a $136 million renovation, one for the Morgan Center and one for the Wooden Center. The contractors will be pumping out water and bringing in dehumidifiers and fans, said Leroy Cisneros, director of maintenance and alterations for facilities management.