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Posted on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

University of Michigan's North Quad up and running 5 days after flood

By Kellie Woodhouse


Students use the Media Gateway on the second floor of North Quad as three large fans are used to ventilate the room on Wednesday.

Courtney Sacco I

University of Michigan's North Quad is back in business five days after a burst pipe flooded areas of the building and displaced 32 residents.

Initially, officials told there were 100 students displaced based on information they had at the time of the incident.

University of Michigan's North Quad flood

See the coverage from the dorm flood that displaced 32 students

An estimated 2,600 gallons of water flowed from the broken pipe for 33 minutes on the morning of April 28, flooding parts of the first four floors of the 10-story building, which includes dorm rooms and academic areas.

Water spilled from the pipe, located in a fourth-floor stairwell, cascading down the stairs, bursting through doorways and seeping through walls and ceilings.

Most of the damage has been fixed and students moved back in on Tuesday, the same day classes resumed to their normal North Quad locations and schedules.

North Quad's first two floors include classrooms, technology-equipped study spaces and a computer lab. The building is the home of the School of Information. From the third floor up are residence halls. North Quad opened in 2010 after a $175 million construction.


Bags of students' clothing sit in North Quad's community center having been removed and cleaned after last weeks flood.

Courtney Sacco I

Director of communications for U-M housing Peter Logan said the university does not yet know the estimated cost of damages. He said most of the damages were considered 'surface,' or things that easily can be replaced or cleaned, such as paint and carpeting. The majority of the building's considerable technology, which is valued in the seven-figures, was unharmed.

In areas impacted by water, crews cleaned floors and carpets and in some cases moved baseboard molding. In certain areas, they drilled holes in walls to extract water and help the interior of the wall dry out. Crews used vacuums with strong suction, fans and dehumidifiers to extract the moisture and U-M officials are monitoring for mold caused by the water.

Considering the building's computer lab was flooded, as were classrooms with electronic podiums and other equipment, Logan said he was surprised by the lack of substantive damage. He said just one piece of costly equipment was damaged in the flood —a media scape table that allows several computers to share one screen.


Fans are used to ventilate floors on the third floor of North Quad after last weeks flood.

Courtney Sacco I

"This stuff really cascaded down that stairwell... even through walls and ceilings," Logan said, adding that the flooding angered and annoyed some of the displaced students. "It was a big distraction to them, and particularly as we get toward the end of the semester when there is a focus on getting projects and papers done."

Logan said water flowed at a rate of 80 gallons-per-minute for 33 minutes because U-M police had to respond to the scene and canvas North Quad so they could determine there was no fire. The burst pipe set off an alarm that normally signals sprinkler activation, which takes place when there is a potential fire.

"We cannot turn off the water suppression supply until it has been completely determined there is no fire," Logan said. "While water is continuing to rush, we're making sure there is no fire. North Quad is not a small building, so this takes time."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.


Seasoned Cit

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

How well would the sprinklers have worked if there was a fire... with 80 gal/minute leaking out of the supply line ! Seems like the cause of the alarm was the obvious leak... so shut off the water and leak.. and continue looking for a fire . Aren't there any detectors that would have also indicated a problem at their location ? Maybe was right with it claimed the UM wasn't conducting enough emergency drills etc... and hence staff were 10-30 minute slow in finding a shut off valve.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Consider this; people have- in the past- disabled suppression systems and started a fire in other parts of a building. Flow switches triggered the alarm at DPS, alerting first responders water is flowing in a situation such as this life saving is greater than property damage; I'm sure there were multiple tasks taking place simultanesly. Also if the break happened on 4th floor there would likely be miles of pipes above the 4th floor that would drain down adding to the amount of water. so although the flow was turned off it would still be draining

Kai Petainen

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

5 days later and things are up and running... that's really good. to those working on this... kudos and a *job well done*


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

I see this occurred in the future. April 28th to be exact.

Tom Drake

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

thanks to balfor for a great clean up job.