News, On campus

Flooding in Henderson Hall Forces Faculty to Relocate

Dr. Colleen Mestayer cleans up her office after the flooding in Henderson Hall on Jan. 10. She had to relocate from all the damage.
Photo by Seth Jones

Days before the spring semester at Tech, a rainstorm hit Cookeville and caused increased flooding. Henderson Hall began to see leakages. In the basement, multiple offices and classrooms were damaged.

The flood is said to have been caused by a combination of a pipe burst and the heavy rainstorm. No person was injured during the flooding.

Samuel Masters, director of building maintenance, shared that it happened over multiple days.

“It’s been doing this for months [and] maybe an even longer period than that, so it has progressively gotten worse,” Masters said.

Masters and his crew continue searching for the source, but they believe it could take another rainstorm to find it.

All carpet had to be torn out of the offices to relieve the building of the water. It revealed the pile-up of mold in the floors. Along with the mold, there was damaged equipment. Almost all personal items had to be thrown out or recovered from the water damage.

Dr. Colleen Mestayer, professor of communication studies, had an office downstairs in Henderson Hall which was heavily impacted by the flooding.

“I was concerned when I came in. I met with a custodian, and she had taken a whole bunch of pictures … It was bad,” Mestayer said.

Along with the offices and classrooms, the Information Technology equipment downstairs was damaged.

Masters spoke on the expectations for Henderson Hall going forward.

“Once you put what you think are the correct measures in place, you have to get additional rains to, if you will, field test your hypothesis. That will take a period of time,” Masters said.

He believes that the best way to find the source of the problem is to wait until another few rainstorms come through.

All professors and Tech workers in the basement of Henderson had to either relocate or change their office hours to Zoom meetings to continue their work.

It is unclear how long it will take to finish repairing the basement.

“Before we know for sure, it will have to rain 4 or 5 times to make 100% [sure] it is not continuing to be an issue.”

As the weather continues to change, facilities will continue to monitor every building to make sure this does not occur again.