Heavy rains cause water damage to ITEC and Humanities Buildings


“Wet floor” signs taped to Room 310 of the Humanities Building list temporary classroom changes. (Igor Colonno | The Union)

The South Bay region was not spared following a series of atmospheric rivers causing heavy rain throughout Southern California.

Heavy winds and showers have been frequent this spring semester with the latest rainstorms interrupting several classes at El Camino College.

Facing the brunt of the water damage were the Industry Technology Education Center and Humanities Building with numerous water leaks throughout.

The west side of the library basement was also affected. Water accumulated and began dripping from the walls and soaking into the floors in different areas.

The college’s Facilities Planning and Services department quickly addressed the water damage issues. Interim Assistant Director Michael Blada confronted the sources of the water coming into the rooms.

“There’s more than one way of having water in a building,” Blada said. “You can have a roof leak or you can have a water intrusion coming from a different source, not necessarily from the building”.

The Industry Technology Education Center had issues with drains not flowing properly, leading to water amassing in the conduits, causing water to enter the building.

Blada said the department cleaned the drains by allowing water to flow cleanly through them. For long-term prevention in construction areas, such as in the Industry Technology Education Center, the drains have to be cleaned frequently.

At times, cloth is placed in the drains to catch residues such as nails or wood debris to prevent them from entering the pipelines and causing pollution.

Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Services Jorge Gutierrez said the department has to take steps to make sure that pollutants do not end up running into storm drains.

Basement hallway of the Industry and Technology building. Part of it being covered by plastic due to floor and wall water damage. (Igor Colonno | The Union)
Basement hallway of the Industry and Technology building. Part of it being covered by plastic due to floor and wall water damage. (Igor Colonno | The Union) Photo credit: Igor Colonno

“We have to provide… mitigation measures on stormwater runoff [in construction areas] because it can contain pollutants and goes into flood controls and then releases into the ocean,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said the mitigation measures are fully removed once construction is done.

Back in the Humanities Building, Blada said that they are working with an engineer for possible repairs to prevent long-term damage and halt water leaking through the walls.

While there are no plans for building reconstruction as of now, Blada said they are always looking to improve waterproofing as the issue mainly occurs during instances where large amounts of rain accumulate in short periods.

Safety measures are taken to make sure the rooms can be made available to students and faculty alike. Dehumidifiers were placed inside affected rooms in the Humanities Building to make sure that contaminants from walls that could create mold are eliminated.

The department is working closely with Servpro, a water, fire and storm damage restoration company that has previously worked with El Camino.

The external company places equipment and cuts drywall to clean up all water damage completely.

Humanities Associate Dean Scott Kushigemachi said Servpro acts in compliance with the facilities department to establish which rooms may and may not be used for instruction.

“If the room is bad… facilities are the ones to say that [the room] can’t be used today,” Kushigemachi said.

Priority scheduling for room treatment depends on the severity of the water damage, according to Kushigemachi.

As the possibility of rain persists this spring semester, the facilities department will continue working closely with individual division deans to repair affected buildings and get students back into their classrooms.


Editor’s Note: Update featured photo caption on April 3, 2023, at 11:16 a.m.