Strong winds ripped through UTD Feb. 19 detaching a 100-foot piece of copper from the Eugene McDermott Library’s roof. Library officials estimate repairs will cost $30,000-$50,000.
“The 40-50 mph winds just rolled that thing up like a banana peel,” said Physical Plant Director Delbert Overstreet, referring to the copper roofing that was detached in the wild winds.
The deteriorated wood decking, to which the solid-copper roof was nailed, gave way when the wind “got underneath, caught it and lifted it up,” Overstreet said.
During the afternoon windstorm, Director of Libraries Larry Sall saw what he thought was cardboard from a dumpster flying through the air. He said he was shocked to find out the flying debris was actually pieces of his building’s roof.
“Of all the problems I had expected with the library, that was one I wasn’t expecting,” Sall said, who added that he never considered having exterior library problems.
Only the south section of the roof was damaged and is expected to be replaced in the next three to four weeks, Overstreet said. The final cost of the new roof will depend on its design and the availability of materials and labor.
The original roof – currently made of solid copper – will likely be replaced with a copper-plated metal similar to roofs on the Student Union and Multi-Purpose buildings.
“There are materials today that weren’t available when (the Library) was built,” Overstreet said. “(The copper sheet) would last for another 100 years, but it was too crumpled, and it’s not usable.”
Safety to students and faculty was a concern, Sall said, so the UTD Police were called in to block the areas surrounding the Library in case the winds shifted and the piece broke loose.
Software engineering major Ryan Layfield was in the library when the roof detached.
“It sounded like a lot of loud noises and metal being bent the wrong way,” Layfield said.
A temporary composite roof has been erected and the bookshelves underneath are covered with plastic in case of leaking from heavy rains.
Sall said he appreciates students cooperating through any inconvenient noise during upcoming repairs.