Recent winter storm caused minimal damage to UT-Austin buildings

Sam Halloum

Three UT buildings were damaged during last month’s severe winter storm, but repairs should be completed soon, a UT spokesperson said. 

University maintenance teams are currently repairing buildings on UT’s main campus and the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, Veronica Treviño, media manager for financial and administrative services communications, said in an email. Treviño said staff inspected 352 University buildings, and 349 were able to be occupied following Winter Storm Uri.

“University teams have been very active on and off campus since the storm, making emergency repairs, keeping systems operational and planning the return to normal operations,” Treviño said. 

Two buildings at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, including an office space for staff members and a warehouse, are partially closed due to water leak damage. Treviño said maintenance work at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus will be completed in a few weeks.

Treviño said the Norman Hackerman Building, located on the main campus, was partially closed for about three weeks in order to repair a fire line and the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Due to the damaged fire line, the building did not have fully functioning fire sprinklers and could not be fully occupied, Treviño said. She said maintenance teams set up a temporary fire suppression system on the first floor, where classes have continued. A team of operators is monitoring the temporary fire pump to ensure it is working correctly, she said.

“A fire line is connected to underground water supply and is used to quickly douse a fire,” Treviño said. “Buildings cannot be occupied for safety reasons if there is not water (sprinklers) available in case of fire. The leak has been isolated and only affects NHB.”

Treviño said while repairs to the HVAC system and the fire lines were expected to take up to a week, the Norman Hackerman Building reopened over the weekend after maintenance completed temporary repairs. The building may remain fully open while permanent repairs are completed, she said. 

Environmental science freshman Brynn Havern said she was glad the winter storm didn’t cause issues on campus beyond the Norman Hackerman Building.

“It’s relieving to hear that the damage wasn’t too bad, and the buildings still seem relatively functional,” Havern said.

Evan Ploch, an applied movement science sophomore, said he is glad that not all of the damage caused by the storm was focused on one campus.

“It’s good that the damage was dispersed, and both the campuses are able to stay safe and stay open,” Ploch said.