After the crash, SUB yet to be fixed

SUB still has not been repaired, waiting for insurance assessment

Julia Herman, Assistant News Editor

sections of a fallen tree sit in a patch of grass in front of a building
Marissa Lordahl
The student union building has been mostly reopened following damage from a fallen tree earlier this quarter. Mail stops remain closed as do sections of the loop that are within range trees that have the potential to fall.

On the rainy Friday night of Jan. 31, a large elm tree, weighing between 35,000 to 40,000 pounds, fell in Tiffany Loop onto the collegium and the mailbox area of the Student Union Building. The cause of the fall was the heavy wind and rain that had been taking place at the time.

“The first tree failed due to the extremely wet soil, high winds and a lack of root holding ability — basically without the roots having any holding power in the wet soil, gravity brought the leaning tree down in the high winds,” Dave Church, the Assistant Vice President for Facility Management, said.

In the month that has followed since the tree’s fall, there have only been minimal repairs made to the roof to prevent mold from forming and to help with the upcoming assessment of the damage. But facilities cannot move forward with any major repairs until the assessment has been completed.

“We have made a few roof patches — but no actual repairs have been made yet,” Church said. “We are awaiting a joint inspection with our insurance representative which we hope will happen next week.”

Once the inspection has been completed, SPU will start working with its insurers to come to an agreement on the extent of repairs and move forward with restoring the SUB.

The 100-year-old tree caused damage to the roof and the inside of the SUB, and has led to water damage from the rain that got in.

“Most of all, the ceiling sheetrock, room furnishings and floor inside the collegium were wet from rain and dirt from falling ceiling material and tree branches that pierced the roof,” Church said.

Initially, following the fall, all of Tiffany Loop was blocked off so the other trees in the area could be inspected.

The trees in Tiffany Loop are inspected on a yearly basis, testing the condition and strength. If facilities noticed that a tree is not healthy or safe, they create a work plan that will help mend it and in rare cases, they will remove it.

“The tree that failed was in a grove of trees all planted originally close together. As the trees grew over the years they grew at an angle, each tree competing for sunlight,” Church said.

The yellow caution tape blocking Tiffany Loop has significantly lessened over the past few weeks as it has rained less and more trees have been inspected. However, it is still partially blocked off due to the soil still being wet in places.

the damaged roof of a building
Marissa Lordahl
Collegium usually provides a resting place and work space for commuter students but has been closed since the tree punctured the roof of the space. Commuter students currently have exclusive access to the Gazebo room, directly next door.

“We are working to schedule a stress test on a second tree,” Church said. “The ground remains fairly wet which concerns us, which is why a portion of the loop is still closed off until we know the arborist’s opinion.”

Once the tree has been inspected, the rest of Tiffany Loop should open up.

Although there is not an exact timeline for when the repairs will be done, Church is hopeful that they will come to an agreement with the insurers in the next few weeks, begin to make repairs and have a better idea of when the SUB will be fully open again.