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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: January freeze caused more damage at LSU than initially believed

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BATON ROUGE - While video of a water-laden ceiling collapsing at LSU's Patrick F. Taylor Hall went viral following a freeze last month, other problems were surging elsewhere on campus. By the time the thaw was on, nearly two dozen facilities had some sort of problem.
Buildings impacted ranged from Alex Box Stadium on campus to the Hilltop Arboretum along Highland Road. Campus workers addressed some of the damage, but LSU lined up outside help for the worst problems, records show.
LSU said initially that the Taylor Hall damage would be fixed for less than $40,000. After being asked for an accounting three weeks after the freeze, LSU released documents indicating around $1.6 million worth of work.
Some of the documents appeared to be bid sheets. It wasn't immediately clear where the final figure will land, but it's a lot.
Eighteen on-campus buildings had some sort of damage, as did three off-site.
At Alex Box Stadium, trouble began with the building's fire-fighting system.
“Condensation got into the fitting, and then that condensation froze and expanded the fittings where the fitting broke, and then the air released out of the fire suppression system," said Matthew Montgomery, the stadium's general manager.
And workers discovered one problem as water began to flow again.
“The water was kind of going in the wrong direction, so we've since turned the valve the other way so that it points to the parking lot, and it’ll shoot into the parking lot if it ever fails again,” he said.
Gerald Sansoni, LSU's assistant director of facility operations, said taking care of so many buildings can be difficult.
“With over 500 buildings on campus to care for, it’s not as simple as going outside and doing what you do to your home," he said.


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