Damage was being assessed Sunday after a broken water main caused significant flooding at the Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries Operations Center in Vancouver.
According to the Vancouver Public Works Department, contractors working at a nearby construction site broke an 18-inch water main just before 6 p.m. Saturday. Videos on social media showed water gushing several feet into the air near East Mill Plain Boulevard and Fort Vancouver Way.
The basement of the FVRL Operations Center was flooded with nearly three feet of water. Five library vehicles were also damaged as the building’s vehicle docks and loading bays saw even deeper water.
FVRL spokesman Tak Kendrick said it’s too early to know the extent of the damage, though he said it’s extensive.
“We have to assess and take a step back,” Kendrick said. “We know we’re certainly going to be days or weeks behind in terms of operations.”
The building’s basement houses facilities operations, IT, collection operations, storage, and mailroom functions. The building’s electrical and HVAC systems were also affected.
Kendrick said library patrons might notice some disruption in service. Because the Operations Center serves as the main hub for the district’s 15 locations, transfers of books between branches could be delayed. The damaged vehicles are largely responsible for shuttling materials between branches.
Processing of curbside pickup will likely be delayed, along with the sending of books by mail. Electronic services, including delivery of e-books, is unaffected.
Kendrick said coming days will reveal the true extent of the damage and a clearer picture of how operations will be disrupted. Right now, he said, the main task for reconstruction crews is simply removing the water.
“We’re pivoting,” Kendrick said. “Isn’t that your favorite term for 2020.”
City crews and contractors repaired the water main before midnight, according to a Public Works Department statement.
“The break appears to have been related to construction activity at a nearby development project,” the statement said. “Private contractor crews for that project quickly responded to try to stop the flow, but were unable to do so as a result of the size of the pipe and severity of the break.”