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Sunday, March 03, 2024
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12 campus buildings damaged in December’s blizzard

Sections of Clemens, the Biomedical Research Building, Fronczak, Flint Village, all of Cary Hall remain offline

Eight campus buildings sustained water damage after power outages and blown-open windows caused water lines to freeze and burst.
Eight campus buildings sustained water damage after power outages and blown-open windows caused water lines to freeze and burst.

Editor’s note (Jan. 17): Since publication, university officials say they have discovered additional water damage in the Biomedical Research Building and Cary Hall, requiring both buildings to undergo “significant repairs” that will take 12 months to complete. The entirety of the Biomedical Research Building and the ground and first floors of Cary Hall will remain closed indefinitely. 

University officials also expect that no campus buildings besides Cary Hall, the Biomedical Research Building and six apartments in Flint Village will remain closed by Jan. 30, the start of the spring semester. 

Seven buildings on UB’s North Campus — Clemens, Fronczak, Cooke, the Student Union, the Natural Sciences Complex, the Center for the Arts and building 307 in Flint Village — and five buildings on South Campus — the Biomedical Research Building, Cary, Sherman, Squire and Harriman — were damaged in December’s historic blizzard that has claimed the lives of 44 Western New Yorkers

Eight of those buildings sustained water damage after power outages and blown-open windows caused water lines to freeze and burst, UB spokesperson John Della Contrada said in an email to The Spectrum. A power outage in Squire Hall broke a transformer, which has since been replaced. 

“The majority of UB students return to campus on Monday, Jan. 30, after the winter

break, for the start of the spring semester, and we don’t anticipate classes or activities

will be impacted,” Della Contrada said. “The patience and understanding of students, faculty and staff is greatly appreciated as the university responds to damage caused by this historic blizzard.”

Della Contrada described damage to most academic buildings as “localized to a few rooms” and said that disruption to operations in those buildings would be “minimal.” 

But that can’t be said for all campus buildings. Half of the fifth and sixth floors and all of the seventh floor of Clemens Hall, approximately one-third of the Biomedical Research Building and parts of Fronczak Hall remain closed. Areas “significantly affected” will likely remain offline for 60-90 days while repairs are made, Della Contrada said. Squire Hall will remain open to the public, but a construction project — expected to last 12-16 months — is underway to “fully restore the building systems to their previous state.” 

Cary Hall, where a water line break affected “a large number of rooms,” is closed indefinitely until “further evaluation can be made.” UB Facilities teams are using “specialized equipment” to remove moisture from the building’s walls, ceilings and flooring. The building is home to the Center for Hearing and Deafness, the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and the Toxicology Research Center, among other programs. 

“The amount of time before these spaces will be ready for use will depend on the success of drying efforts, and the scope of the materials which will ultimately need to be removed and replaced by construction crews,” Della Contrada said of repair efforts in Cary Hall. 

Faculty and staff with offices in affected areas have been notified and asked to remove their belongings. 

The blizzard also appears to have disrupted the Student Association. SA staff members were slated to return to their office the first week of January, but a frozen pipe burst in the hallway outside their offices, causing water damage to their suite, according to Interim Student Unions Director John Kisker. The Student Union suffered no other “unexpected” storm-related damage. 

“This will not affect students at the start of the semester,” Kisker said. 

SA staff would be working remotely while repairs continued and club storage rooms remained undamaged, SA Vice President Sammi Pang said in an email to club e-boards. 

“Until further notice [SA] communications isn’t open to correspondence with UB Spectrum,” Tendaji Ya'Ukuu, a spokesperson for the SA, said in an email response to specific questions from The Spectrum about how storm-related damage was affecting SA operations.

Only one student housing building — Flint Village building 307 — was damaged in the storm after a burst water line flooded six apartments, Della Contrada said. All affected students were notified, and university officials expect that eight will be relocated until repairs to their apartments are finished “at some point in February.” 

The cost of repairs and cleanup is “unknown at this time and may not be fully calculated for many months,” Della Contrada said, adding that the effectiveness of water mitigation efforts and the length of the reconstruction process will determine costs. The university will also hire outside contractors “in some cases.” 

Grant Ashley is the managing editor and can be reached at


Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for NPR, WBFO, WIVB and The Buffalo News. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @Grantrashley. 



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