Originally created 01/04/01

College cites cold in floods



AIKEN - Freezing weather during the winter holiday break might be responsible for flooding Aiken Technical College's new Dale Phelon Technology Center, spokeswoman Nina Nidiffer said Wednesday.

A construction worker discovered water damage in the building the day after Christmas.

Officials determined that coils in three variable air volume units most likely froze and ruptured, allowing water circulating in the system to escape through the ceilings into three rooms, Ms. Nidiffer said.

The water then spread to other areas and damaged the first and second floors of the wing closest to the Student Activities Center, the library workroom and a small portion of the library, she said.

Computers and desks in some faculty offices were damaged, along with carpet and ceiling tiles, said college spokeswoman Kelly Greene. Computers in two labs also got wet.

More than a half-inch of water was found on the floor where the worst leaks were, she said. In other areas, only small leaks were discovered, she said.

Damage to computers and furniture is still being assessed, but the college is fully insured, officials said.

Ms. Nidiffer said she estimates that the drying process will be complete by Friday. Repairs will begin, and the affected areas are expected to be back in service in four to five weeks, she said.

Several faculty and staff members will be temporarily relocated to other offices, and some classes will change locations, Ms. Nidiffer said. But classes will begin Monday as scheduled.

"The quick response from college staff and faculty, as well as emergency water extraction services, greatly reduced damage to the building and its equipment," said the school's president, Dr. Susan Graham. "We anticipate the building being fully functional within a short period of time."

The Dale Phelon Information Technology Center is a 40,000-square-foot facility that houses the new Learning Resource Center, a media center, student computer labs and classrooms outfitted with computer equipment. The center was built for computer technology students last fall.

Reach Katie Throne at (803) 279-6895.