James Hall Flood Causes Massive Damage, Disrupts Magner Center Operations

Debris litters the floor of the Magner Center. Only half the rooms allocated to the center are usable in their current state. / Michael Sarrao

  Disclaimer: Dylan Campbell is a part-time employee at the Magner Center.

When employees of the Magner Career Center and other faculty members returned from Christmas break in early January, they opened their doors to puddles of water, cracked ceilings and the smell of mold in the air.

“I was in complete shock to find that the center was damaged to the extreme that it was. Large chunks of the ceiling caved in and the water was everywhere. The damage littered the front desk offices, our workshop room and water seeped into the hallway,” said Michael Sarrao, a Career Counselor at the Magner Career Center.

During the cold spell in early January, when temperatures went as low as 19 degrees, pipes along the exterior of the building froze, bursting the pipes open and sending gallons of freezing water throughout James Hall.  Dozens of rooms on all five floors of the building were flooded, causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage and cutting the Magner Career Center’s space in half, relocating its entrance.

According to Assistant Vice President for Facilities, Planning, and Operations Francis X. Fitzgerald, approximately 25 rooms, mostly in corridors 300 and 600 along Campus Road, suffered damages. Damages in James Hall range from puddles of water to damaged carpets, walls, and ceilings having to be replaced. Several departments including the Magner Career Center were displaced throughout January.

Most of the faculty in the area were temporarily moved to other buildings on campus while repairs were made. A majority have been moved back, but the Magner Career Center has not returned to normal, as they can only work out of half of their office. According Fitzgerald, the center was an exception because of the large amount of carpeting that was damaged.

“Those first few days, appointments had to be cancelled or rescheduled. Currently we are using another section of the office as the reception and we can’t use our workshop room,” explained Magner Career Center director Natalia Guarin-Klein, who has been working out of 1305 James Hall instead of 1303. The Magner Center has also been forced to relocate events.

“For now we are not sure when our workshop room will be available to use and also our reception area.”

Fitzgerald said the carpet replacement should be completed in the next two weeks. Other repairs are expected to take more time. All damages to the space and computers will be paid for by the college.

“Most areas will be repaired within the next two weeks,” said Fitzgerald. “However, there are some areas where temporary repairs have been performed to make the rooms usable for the departments. Permanent repairs will be undertaken during breaks over the next few months in order to minimize operational impacts during the school year.”

The center is still operating at its normal hours and will continue to host events out of different spaces across campus during the semester.

“Even though things were destroyed, I’m happy to say that we’ve got a tough group of people working at the Magner Center,” said Sarrao. “We’re making the best out of a bad situation and are still seeing students, which has always and will always be our mission.  Even though Mother Nature did its best to knock us down, Brooklyn College and the Magner Center will rebound better than ever.”

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