Rainfall causes limited flooding around Wehr, Coughlin

Photo by Danny Alfonzo/ daniel.alfonzo@mu.edu
Photo by Danny Alfonzo/ daniel.alfonzo@mu.edu

Last week’s heavy rains brought flooding across campus, with Wehr Chemistry and the low-lying area outside Coughlin Hall especially drenched. For maintenance staff, the damage was routine.

During Richard Zevitz’s Introdution to the Law class in Wehr Chemistry 100 on Thursday morning, water began to seep underneath the door to the right of the chalkboard. As the class continued, water seeped all the way to where students were sitting.

Kevin Fleming, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, was in the classroom when the water came in.

“I wouldn’t say there was that big of an issue,” Fleming said. “I didn’t notice the flooding until someone else pointed it out to me. I would say it was maybe a 5 by 7 (foot) area where the carpet was noticeably damp, with a larger amount of water in the middle of it.”

Jerry Kohn, Marquette’s assistant director of grounds management, said the leak originated from the building’s basement.

“The water seeped in the spot where the foundation meets the basement floor by room 100,” Kohn said. “When there is a tremendous amount of rain, we have a leakage. The last time it happened (there) was 2008.”

Kohn said the water was cleaned up and the floor dried out within 24 hours of the flooding.

“Flooding like this happens when the ground becomes oversaturated.” Kohn said. “Since Wehr is an older building, the foundation is not as solid.”

Kohn said this happens too infrequently to warrant any construction. To completely waterproof the basement, workers would have to dig into the foundation from the outside the building. Kohn said this likely will not happen because the maintenance staff is working on making the campus look its best for graduation.

During periods of heavy rain, the low-lying area between Coughlin Hall and the Helfaer Theatre also tends to flood. Kohn said there are two catch basins at the bottom of the area that do a good job of drainage.

“When there is a large amount of rain, the drains can’t handle all of it.” Kohn said. “To alleviate this, we built two stone pathways for the water to travel down.”

Because of this, Kohn said, Coughlin has never flooded. The area often floods because of the absorption of too much salt from the winter, which clogs the drains. Much of the damage to the grass is also due to excess salt, forcing Kohn and his crew to re-seed that area.

“The flooding doesn’t cause any (turf) disease either,” Kohn said. “Right now we just have to rebuild from the winter damage.”