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Crews Help Campus Weather the Storms

By Dateline Staff on January 10, 2017 in University

Update, 11 a.m. Wednesday: The only noticable impact to campus after another day of heavy rain and strong winds was a downed tree branch near North Hall and some roof leaks, facilities officials said today (Jan. 11).

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One storm down, one still happening — and no major damage on campus thanks to prep work by facilities and grounds crews.

After last weekend’s deluge and more rain today (Jan. 10), the incident log showed that one large tree branch had come down and that there had been flooding in the Sprocket Bike Tunnel under La Rue Road, in addition to several roof leaks and other water intrusion issues.

“They’ve just done an amazing job prepping so that we didn’t have any major flooding issues or anything like that,” said Katie Hetrick, communications director for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.

The Arboretum Waterway.
The campus lowered the level of the Arboretum Waterway (by pumping more water into Putah Creek), to make space for additional runoff.

“They” refers to grounds personnel who removed hundreds of cubic yards of leaves and other green waste over the past couple of weeks, as well as building and utilities personnel who maintained, among other things, roofs and pumps and drains.

The work is not done, as a flood warning remains in effect in the region until 2:45 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 12), and a high wind warning until midnight today. See National Weather Service advisories.

The preparation before the storm

The heaviest lifting occurs well before a storm and is part of the normal day-to-day business of many of the units of Finance, Operations and Administration:

  • Safety Services maintains an emergency operations center and emergency notification systems.
  • The Police and Fire departments train rigorously for emergency response.
  • Grounds and Landscape Services, besides clearing green waste, ensures trees are properly trimmed.
  • Building Maintenance Services keeps roofs and downspouts in working order.
  • Utilities clears storm drains and ensures emergency generators are operational.

“We know where the hot spots are,” said Mike Fan, utilities director. “And we get resources into place to help prevent a manageable situation like a clogged drain from becoming a bigger problem.”

During storms like this week’s, crews pay special attention to hot spots like the bikeway tunnel under La Rue Road (near the Segundo Dining Commons), the Hutchison Hall loading dock and the south side of the Human Resources Administration Building. Power failures, downed trees and pump failures are some of the larger, unanticipated problems that campus crews are trained to address.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed for today’s storm as the high winds predicted with lots of soil moisture makes us susceptible for tree failures,” said Cary Avery, associate director of Grounds and Landscape Services.

Should that happen, grounds crews have their chainsaws ready. Equally as ready are the electricians, plumbers, custodians and many of our campus’s other skilled craftspeople who are all prepared to address storm-related issues. 

How you can help

While facilities staff work throughout campus, they could always use an extra set of eyes to help them identify potential problems, like leaves blocking a drain, large broken branches dangling in trees, or slippery entryways.

  • Contact the Facilities Management Customer Support Center to report any problems with buildings or infrastructure, 530-752-1655 (24 hours a day).
  • Keep your WarnMe contact information up to date, so you can receive warnings and Aggie Alerts on all your phones and other devices.
  • Avoid parking under trees or power lines, which can come down in heavy rain and wind. The university is not responsible for vehicle damage caused by trees.
  • Check Winter Weather Resources from the Yolo County Office of Emergency Services for tips on dealing with bad weather in our region.

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About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or dljones@ucdavis.edu. Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or kitaura@ucdavis.edu.

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