Staff scrambles to provide services as Edmonds Library flood damage assessment continues

On the morning after the flood, the waters form a reflecting pool below a stack of books. (Photo courtesy of Sno Isle Libraries)

The Edmonds Library is slowly coming back from extensive damage resulting from water pipe rupture last month that flooded the main floor with two inches of standing water. But the restoration process is just beginning, and it will likely be many weeks before the library is able to reopen.

Sno-Isle Libraries Assistant Director of Facilities, Safety and Security R.D. Burley points to the location of the failed connection between the copper water supply pipes and the rooftop irrigation system PVC pipes that resulted in the flood.

It all began the night of June 23. While the exact time is uncertain, at around midnight the connection between a two-inch copper water supply pipe and a PVC pipe that feeds the irrigation system for the rooftop gardens ruptured, releasing an estimated 7,500-8,000 gallons of water per hour. The cause of the rupture is still under investigation and may never be known.

Burley shows how the water soaked into and traveled up the sheetrock walls on the library’s main floor.

The water initially flowed through the ceiling into a staff room on the south side of the library’s main floor, and spread throughout the entire facility. It quickly extended to the entry lobby, elevator and restroom area adjacent to the Main Street entrance.

A Waste Management crew on their regular rounds discovered the flood at 7 a.m.  They immediately called 911 to report the problem.

Scenes of the damage in the library main floor.

“There were two inches of standing water throughout the library when City of Edmonds staff arrived later that morning to investigate,” said R.D. Burley, Sno-Isle Libraries assistant director of facilities, safety and security, who is overseeing damage assessment efforts.  “After initial assessment, the city immediately began working with consultant Restorex on recovery work, while library staff scrambled to ensure the book collection and other assets were safe.

“We had more than 54,000 books in this space,” he continued. “The good news is that despite extensive damage to the building, thanks to the quick efforts of library staff and the City of Edmonds, the entire book collection was preserved.”

Industrial drying fans lined up on the main floor of the Edmonds Library.

All books and computer equipment have been moved offsite and are being housed at the Sno-Isle Libraries service center.

Building damage, however, was significant. Carpets and vinyl flooring were soaked, and water had migrated several feet up the sheetrock walls. Much sheetrock, carpet and floor covering continues to be removed, while industrial fans keep air circulating to dry out areas with residual moisture.

“It’s critical that we get all the moisture out before doing any restoration,” added Burley. “Any residual moisture carries the risk of mold, so drying things out is the necessary first step.”

Crews removing damaged flooring from the staff room where the flood began.

With the main library now closed until further notice, staff are working to ensure that library users can still access library services.

All 23 Edmonds Library staff continue to work, with some deployed to the Lynnwood branch and others engaged in a range of community outreach activities.

“We are making extra efforts to keep up our services to engage and connect with the community during this process,” said Amy Santos, Edmonds Library circulation supervisor. “The bookmobile will be here at the library every Friday at 11 a.m., our book drops are accessible 24/7, we have staff doing outreach at the Edmonds Waterfront Center every Thursday, and our children’s librarian is doing visits to the Boys and Girls Club, family story time at the Frances Anderson Center Tuesdays at 11 a.m., and online toddler story time on our website.” (More information is available here)

Additional efforts include mailing books directly to borrowers, and providing extra services to those who depend on the library for computer access.

“We have laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots to lend to our patrons who depend on us for digital access,” said David Durante, Sno-Isle Libraries deputy director. Arrangements can be made on the Sno-Isle Computers and Printing web page, or by calling the main Sno-Isle Libraries at 360-651-7000.

The rooftop gardens remain open to the public. Plants are being watered manually by library staff.

While the building remains closed until further notice, the rooftop plaza remains open to the public. Crews will water the plantings with hoses until the irrigation system is repaired.

“We know everyone is eager to hear when the library will reopen,” added Durante. “We’re still assessing the extent of the damage, so it will be some time before we have a plan to address it and develop a reopening schedule. We’ll share this when we know more, possibly as soon as next month.”

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. After the flood disaster and needing to return as well as get new books, I went to the Lynwood Library. On entering there was a note on the door “Welcome Edmonds Library Guests” or something like that. it was a small but very KIND gesture.
    Glad to hear that books weren’t damaged in Edmonds, and that services for kids are available. Libraries rock!!

  2. I sure hope they have some insurance that kicks in!

    It’ll take a quite a few “bake sales” to cover the losses …

  3. It is time for Edmonds to evaluate if we want a whole new library. And if we do, where would it best be placed to help all of Edmonds, not just the bowl.

    Several key points:
    1. We pay a tax based on our property values and as a result we subsidize other locations outside of Edmonds.
    2. The current building is owned by the city and has had substantial maintenance issues in the past.
    3. It is unclear at this point what will be the cost to repair the building and who will pay those costs. City, Sno-Isle and what insurance claims may be in play.
    4. The Edmonds library is one of the oldest in the Sno-Isle system.
    5. Sno-Isle reserves that are estimated to be $10m by the end of the year. They are adding $500k to the reserves this year. The capital program is funded both by current taxes and reserves.

    It may be a good time to sort out all the issues of the building and decide if we want to relocate the library and if so where would be a good location and what can we do with the current building in the grand plan to meet other needs of Edmonds.

  4. Will the library need additional funds to address the problems associated with the water damage? If so, where should I send a contribution?

  5. Edmonds owns the building and if I recall correctly Sno-Isle pays rent and we pay for “library services”. How the utilities are paid is not clear and how insurance works is also not clear: Building vs Interior vs Contents? A review of the Sno-Isle 2022 budget, the details are not available on a city-by-city basis. Most of the funding comes from property tax and they show $62m from taxes at a rate of $.39/1000 or for Edmonds somewhere around $40m. We have the high total assessed value. Sno-Isle nor the City have any posted details of the costs for this branch.

    To GS above, it is not clear how the damage will be paid for and who will be responsible. But if you want to make a contribution, I know Sno-Isle has a friend of the library fund and I would bet that Edmonds does as well.

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