Areas of the SVC basement reopened Tuesday after a blocked sewer line caused flooding of water and raw sewage that soaked the carpets, flooded the elevator shafts and forced many workers out of their basement offices on Monday.
The blockage was caused by grout in the plumbing line from the first floor men’s room, according to Will Martinez of USF Physical Plant. Crews removed the blockage on Monday, according to Assistant Director of Communications Aaron Nichols. USF brought in Lang Environmental to do cleaning, sanitation and removal.
While offices were not evacuated, many people working in the offices housed in the SVC basement left because of flooding, smell and to give university workers space to clean up the area, according to Nichols. Nichols said in an email that those remaining in the offices by the end of the day were primarily IT staff.
The basement reopened, with a crew from Lang Environmental working to clean up areas now marked off with hanging plastic tarps. Martinez and Colleen Etheridge, project manager from Lang Environmental, said the area is perfectly safe for those working on the cleanup and those in offices in the basement.
“There’s nothing hazardous about the situation at all,” Etheridge said.
The carpet is being cleaned and some sections have been removed. Etheridge said along with removal of carpet, workers are removing water, drywall and baseboards. She estimated at least 1,000 square feet of damaged floor was being removed.
Flooding also entered elevator shafts. Those affected areas are also being cleaned. Workers from Lang Environmental had already filled a 55-gallon barrel by 11 a.m. with water and sewage from the elevator shaft, according to Etheridge. The elevators in the building are currently shut down.
USF has been remodeling restrooms in SVC but none of the sewer lines have been replaced as part of those remodels, according to Nichols. He said in an email on Monday that the pipe would be scoped to make sure the blockage was completely removed.
Currently, bathrooms in the SVC basement are closed. Martinez said that he is unsure when they will reopen or when the cleanup will be completed.