Stories of the year: Early morning pipe burst floods Cole Auditorium

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer
Daily Journal file photo Water sits stagnant on the floor of Cole Auditorium in front of the stage after a pipe burst on June 26. The first four rows of chairs were underwater when the flooding was discovered.

Public works and fire officials put in soggy day of work one Monday last June, pumping more than 200,000 gallons of water out of RCC’s Cole Auditorium. A 3 a.m. pipe burst had sent the water cascading over the stage, turning the orchestra pit into a lap pool and submerging four rows of cushioned seats.

By mid-afternoon, workers had cajoled balky pumps from the Hamlet Fire Department into sending the inside water outside and into storm drains. Pooled water surrounded the auditorium’s cooling station and muddied its bright green lawn.

“It’ll be overtime for several workers,” said Hamlet Fire Chief Calvin White, who had arrived with the pumps at about 8 a.m. “It’s a pretty major operation.”

Maintenance worker Wallace Jones discovered the problem at 6 a.m., when he reported to work at Richmond Community College. When he saw water pooling out the back doors, Jones called his bosses at the college, who called the City of Hamlet, who turned off the water.

“Probably a fifth of the building may have been affected,” said Brent Barbee, RCC vice president and chief financial officer. He blamed the flood on a sprinkler pipe supply-line rupture in the rear of the building.

The college relocated children who were to attend summer camp in the building, as well as a public hearing scheduled for the evening and, eventually, months worth of events — many of which could be accommodated in meeting rooms and the auditorium foyer.

Workers had to tear out the buckling stage to get at the last elusive moisture from the flooding, and replace and repair flooring and Sheetrock. Seats and carpets were cleaned and not replaced, and all was in order well before the opening of the fall show season.

Daily Journal file photo Water sits stagnant on the floor of Cole Auditorium in front of the stage after a pipe burst on June 26. The first four rows of chairs were underwater when the flooding was discovered.
https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_coleflood_chairs.jpgDaily Journal file photo Water sits stagnant on the floor of Cole Auditorium in front of the stage after a pipe burst on June 26. The first four rows of chairs were underwater when the flooding was discovered.

By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

STORIES OF THE YEAR

The Daily Journal is reviewing Richmond County’s top 10 stories of 2017. These are the stories we think had the largest impact on the community.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]