A couple inches under water

A couple inches under water

Imagine walking into your office, your home, or even your bedroom, inundated with water from the heavy rain Los Angeles has experienced over the last two weeks. 

Pierce College faculty and staff dealt with inconvenient circumstances and office damages due to the flooding in the Alder Building. 

Dean of Academic Affairs Susan Rhi-Kleinert was surprised when she saw her office completely flooded. 

“For us, it was just inconvenient and shocking,” Rhi-Kleinert said. “It does feel like it must have been like a flash flood because when I got here, there was a little bit of sand, debris and wood chips. 

The general foreman determined that it was not safe for Rhi-Kleinert to stay in her office after doing a building assessment.

“We did a quick assessment of the entire building and looked at every room to see how much water there was around,” Rhi-Kleinert said. “Administrative Services took over immediately. The general foreman did come really quickly and suggested that I leave the building because it was not a safe place.”

Faculty members faced disruptions in their workflow due to their offices being flooded and having to relocate to a dry workspace. 

Senior Office Assistant Chris Lauterdale was relocated due to the office flood so that she may do her job. 

“I was warned that it was a mess,” Lauterdale said. “There were probably a dozen fans in here and things were flying. I called the assistant to the facilities manager and asked her if it was okay for me to work there and she said no. I went down the hall to the main Academic Affairs Office and figured I’ll settle in there for a while. Things were just all over the place.”

Companies that specialize in water cleanup, restoration and carpet cleaning were contacted immediately to take action in the Alder Building. They were able to absorb the water from the carpets, and they thoroughly shampooed the carpet as well. 

“They took immediate action and they brought some of the people the same day,” Rhi-Kleinert said. “In the afternoon, they already had the machines from Servpro to suck all the water from the walls, the cement and the carpet.” 

Luckily, no electronics or important documents were damaged, except for boxes and other things on the ground. Public Relations Manager Doreen Clay said the floor baseboards experienced the most damage. 

“It was a couple of inches underwater and they had to take the baseboards off on this entire side of the building,” Clay said. “When I came in, it was Monday and there were giant loud fans going everywhere to dry the carpet.”

Clay worked from home and then came back into the office to get her work done while the fans were still on. 

“I worked all last week,” Clay said. “I even worked with the fans. It was loud and hot, but I was doing my newsletter and I needed to get it done. It was very inconvenient, but I was able to work around it. I hope they look at the whole situation and figure out a way to mitigate the damage in the future.”

For future rainfall, Lauterdale insists that Pierce builds preventative measures in hopes of decreasing the chances of flooding. 

“If they could put that curb outside in front of the sidewalk so that water can’t come down, that would be really helpful,” Lauterdale said. “It would save the district and the taxpayers a lot of money going forward.”

The Alder Building is still not up to par, but progress has been made. Sandbags have been laid in front of the building to make sure there will be no leaking again when it rains. 

Faculty members are back in their offices and dealing with minor repercussions. 

“I’m pleased that they took immediate attention to the situation,” Rhi-Kleinert said. “I have to give credit to them and the fact that they took care of everything so quickly.”

Other places that were affected by the heavy rainfall were the tennis court fence, which was destroyed by a falling tree.

Interim President Ara Aguiar said that they recently removed a lot of the weight from the trees around campus.

“Thank goodness we trimmed our trees,” Aguiar said. “There was only one tree that fell.”

Aguiar said that they are looking into the option of either fixing or replacing the fence.

The Roundup News will provide updates with developments.

Sandbags line the Alder Building in Woodland Hills, Calif., on March 17, 2023. Photo by Owen Meza
Updated flooding at the Alder building near Parking Lot 1 in Woodland Hills, Calif. on March 17, 2023. Photo by Owen Meza