Search Our Catalog

The 2013 Glen Ellyn Public Library Flood Summary

Picture of water level in library subbasement.On April 18, 2013, the Village of Glen Ellyn received over seven inches of rain in less than 24 hours.  Sometime between 9 pm on April 17 and 6 am on April 18, the sub-basement of the Glen Ellyn Public Library filled with five feet of water.

The library’s sub-basement houses essential mechanical equipment including air handlers, boilers, sump pumps, effluent pumps, a water heater, and the controls for all of these systems. The fire department was called immediately and responded by pumping water out of the building with a small pump. Later in the day, Public Works arrived with a larger 3” pump and began pumping water out of the sub-basement.

Sadly, the flood in the sub-basement caused the effluent pumps to overfill the sewage system, resulting in sewer backup damage to the first floor restrooms and public meeting rooms on the west end of the building. After the water was removed Serv-Pro began the water damage restoration process. Wet dry wall, insulation, and carpet were removed from all affected areas. Then sanitizing agents were used to control odors and stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, mildew, and other harmful microorganisms. A warm air pump and industrial grade dehumidifiers were put in place to dry the air throughout the building and prevent any damage to the collections.

GEPL basement during clean up from flood.ELARA Engineering was hired to oversee the inspection of the mechanical equipment, providing recommendations regarding necessary repair and replacement, and the proper order in which each system should be restored. First, the sump pumps received new motors, restoring functionality. The effluent pumps also received new motors to restore their functionality. Then, the sump pumps in the elevator pits were replaced. The elevator packings were changed and the elevators inspected for safe operation.

The fire system and electrical system were inspected for safe operation. The motor in one air handler was replaced and restored to operation, followed by the motor in the second air handler. The boilers were inspected and found to be in total disrepair. The boilers were then dismantled and removed from the building. Drywall, insulation, and carpet were all replaced in the affected areas. Both boilers were replaced.

Engineering Solutions was hired to investigate what caused the library building to flood and to determine how this might be prevented in the future. The flood study determined that a series of events led to the flood, beginning with the amount of rain received in a short period of time. The rain then pooled on the north side of the building, at one point rising over the threshold of the first floor emergency exit doors. Eventually, this water poured over the top of the air intake and down into the well. The sump pumps are connected to this well and tried to keep up with the amount of water from the well and the building drain tile until the motors burned out. Once the pumps ceased operation, the water began rising in the well, coming in and around the doors that open out into the well. When the water began accumulating in the sub-basement, it ran into the effluent pump pits. These pumps began pumping the water into the sewer system until the motors burned out, which overfilled the system and created sewer back up on the first floor.

Flod repair work being done on meeting rooms.Engineering Solutions then proposed a series of preventative measures be implemented to protect the library from future flooding. First, 15” concrete parapet walls were constructed around both the air intake and exhaust air wells to prevent flood water from running into these wells and penetrating the building. Next, a swale was constructed on the north side of building to hold rain water and direct it to a new sewer drain installed near the northeast corner of the building. Then, another swale was created on the east end of the building, which allows the north swale, when filled to capacity, to flow down the east end of the building and into Duane Street.

The library worked with Village management, Public Works, and Union Pacific to create a swale along the railroad rideaway that would direct runoff further to the west of the library building. Public Works installed a drain from the west end of the railroad swale, under the prairie path, that would direct rainwater collected into the library parking lot and away from the building. Finally, due to a concern that the underground drainage system may have been full to capacity and the sump pumps may have been pumping against a full system, it was recommended that the sump pump system have a bypass valve installed that would sense when the underground system was full. The size of the sump pumps was increased and piping was installed to the exterior of the building on the north side. If the bypass valve closes the water running into the sump pumps will then pump out into the drainage swale on the north side of the building and flow to Duane Street rather than collect in the library sub-basement.

Total cost for repairs and preventative measures was $ 536,168.52.

  • $99,226 was recouped from the insurance policy
  • $157,469.55 was recouped through an IL Public Library Construction Grant
  • $182,532.36 was recouped from FEMA/IEMA Disaster Grant