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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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