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UCLA wades through flood damage

By Associated Press in Los Angeles (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-31 06:58

The quiet summer campus of UCLA found itself in chaos, suddenly soaked in water after a major pipe burst and spewed 30 million liters of water, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation.

The century-old pipe, 76 centimeters in diameter, burst under nearby Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon, sending water 9.1 meters into the air, opening a 4.6 meter hole in the street and inundating part of the campus. The area was quickly swarmed by police and firefighters.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," the school's Chancellor Gene Block said.

 UCLA wades through flood damage

Dominic Aguilera slides down a handrail as water flows down the entrance of Pauley Pavilion, UCLA's storied basketball court, on Tuesday. Parts of the university's campus was inundated with water after a pipe burst under Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Danny Moloshok / Reuters

The break came during a historic drought, with residents threatened with $500 fines for overuse of water.

"We lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons (132,490 liters) a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city's history," City Councilman Paul Koretz said.

The flooding hit the part of campus that is home to the school's athletic facilities, with the greatest danger coming in a pair of underground parking structures that quickly began filling up with water.

Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, saved at least five people who were stranded inside the structures where more than 100 cars were stuck, city fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

Water cascaded to the entrance of Pauley Pavilion, considered one of college basketball's shrines since it was built in 1965, and then poured onto the court named for legendary coach John Wooden and his wife Nell.

The arena - where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Love starred - underwent a $132 million renovation that was completed in October 2012. At least 2.5 cm of water covered the floor on Tuesday night, and locker rooms were also flooded.

"It's painful. It's painful," Block said. "We just refurbished Pauley just a few years ago. And it's a beautiful structure. It's of course, a symbolic structure for this entire campus."

UCLA wades through flood damage

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said the floor would be cleared of water overnight and the damage assessed on Wednesday.

The school may need to make contingency plans, but "luckily we're not in the middle of basketball season", Administrative Vice-Chancellor Jack Powazek said.

The other two campus buildings damaged were the Wooden Center, which has training facilities for students, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses the school's sports trophies, hall of fame and athletics offices.

Many students took the flooding in stride, walking calmly across campus with their backpacks in ankle-deep water.

Paul Phootrakul of the UCLA Alumni Association, who was in business attire for an evening event, took off his dress shoes and socks, and rolled up his slacks in an attempt to wade to his car that was on the bottom floor of one of the flooded structures. Firefighters stopped him, saying the structure was not steady because of the weight of all the water.

"I don't have much hope for my car," Phootrakul said.

Some saw a chance for fun, pulling out bodysurfing boards and attempting to ride the flowing water.

(China Daily 07/31/2014 page12)

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