Ditebogo Tshaka

On 12 April, the Engineering Study Centre on Hatfield campus flooded. A video circulated on social media that morning showing the facility covered in water. Heila Butters, the Maintenance Manager in the Department of Facilities Management said, “From the information made available to me and looking at the two rainfall events that happened, the one in March where in excess of 200mm rainfall fell in three days, and the other on the 12th of April, approximately 100mm fell in less than one hour, it is concluded that the main cause of the flooding on 12th April was that the amount of rain that fell was more than the existing stormwater pipes could cope with.”

She explained that the first rainfall event saturated the ground and the latter rainfall event was of such magnitude in such a short period of time, the ground was mostly already saturated and the storm water system could not cope. Butters said that as the flooding was occurring there was very little that the plumbers could do as the pipes weren’t blocked. Furniture, fixtures, carpets and beanbags, among other things, suffered water damage. However, no structural damage to the building has been noted.

In order to drain the water, equipment (the water was not deep enough to use pumps) that can suck up water was used to try to keep the water level down. Once the storm had let up, the water drained itself and the rest was a clean-up and assessment of the water damage.

Prof. Sunil Maharaj, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment & IT, said that the following day the “Study Centre was ready to occupy both the ground floor and upper floor and on Monday morning the whole Study Centre was operational”. When asked how such an occurrence will be prevented in the future, Butters said, “As this is an extreme weather event, at this time, general maintenance is ongoing, but without obtaining more information on the future occurrences of these extreme events, design changes cannot be made.” She noted that there are many opinions on the effects of climate change and how it will affect us in future and that the flooding highlights the necessity to review the disaster management plan.



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