Water main break shuts down Cathedral of Learning

Water main break shuts down Cathedral of Learning

Workers begin to clean up the Cathedral of Learning after a water main broke on the third floor Monday morning. (Photo by John Hamilton / Managing Editor)

The Pitt News Staff

September 18, 2017

Pitt evacuated the Cathedral of Learning at about 10 a.m. Monday morning after a water main break caused the first three floors and the lower level of the building to flood.

The break originated from a fire suppression line on the third floor, according to Pitt spokesperson Joseph Miksch, causing water to flow down to the floors below.

“Soon after the water source was determined and shut off, the entire building was closed and safely evacuated Monday morning,” Miksch said in an email.

People who were above the third floor could not leave the building until about two hours after the initial evacuation occurred.

Kevin Weldon, a junior mechanical engineering major, said his Introduction to Ethics class abandoned their classroom on the second floor at 9:30 a.m. when the ceiling started to leak.

“The hallways around the women’s room [on floor two] already had one to two inches of water at that point,” he said.

Videos taken by students on the second floor show water pouring down the stairwells to the lower floors.

From the outside, water seemed to be leaking mainly from the first-floor doors on the Fifth Avenue and Heinz Chapel sides of the building. University maintenance workers drained water from the building using brooms and power equipment.

According to Jaime Rucker, a Pitt maintenance worker, at 11:15 a.m. the water was still leaking as workers began removing water, struggling to keep up.

Pitt maintenance worker Jamie Rucker said he was running out a batteries and couldn’t keep up with the still ongoing leak. (Photo by John Hamilton / Managing Editor)

After assessing the damage, Miksch said crews determined the Nationality Rooms were not damaged, though some water was visible in some of the first-floor Nationality Rooms.

Classes scheduled until 6 p.m. were cancelled, but some evening classes relocated. The University expects to reopen the building by Tuesday at 6 a.m.

“An update will be provided [Monday] evening through emergency notification messages, the University’s homepage and social media channels,” Miksch said.

Some teachers held classes outside the Cathedral after the building was closed. (Photo by John Hamilton / Managing Editor)


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