Underground creek possible cause of flooding at Andorra library

 The Free Library of Philadelphia's Andorra branch has reopened after a month-long emergency closure. (Olivia Jane Winters/for NewsWorks)

The Free Library of Philadelphia's Andorra branch has reopened after a month-long emergency closure. (Olivia Jane Winters/for NewsWorks)

Free Library of Philadelphia officials told residents Tuesday that an underground creek could be responsible for flooding that forced a month-long closure of the Andorra branch.

Joe Benford, chief of FLP’s neighborhood library-services division, led the Tuesday night community meeting down the street from the Andorra branch at Cathedral Village.

The meeting was scheduled to discuss the basement flooding that prompted the May 23 closure; the building reopened on Monday.

“This has happened every once in a blue moon since the building was built in 1973,” Benford said. “We’re unclear what caused the water intrusion, so it could come back.”

Possible causes

Post-flood testing indicated that a water-main break was not to blame. The working theory is that a creek flowing underneath the building was the cause.

The creek runs under the entire length of the Andorra Shopping Center, in which the branch is located.

Since the library is said to be the only property with a basement there, that could explain the two inches of water that flooded around both sets of stairs, the media room and the staff kitchen.

No books were ruined as the damage was confined to the basement, which the library now plans to retile.

Relief and appreciation

After an attendee commented that “we were worried when notices said the branch was indefinitely closed,” Benford spoke of the location’s future.

“We do not plan to close the branch,” he said.

He also noted that the flood investigation is ongoing.

Jim Pecora, FLP’s vice president of facilities management, plans to bring in a structural engineer to further investigate the problem. From there, the focus will turn to finances and a possible capital-funding request to the city.

Regardless, the Andorra library branch is up and running on its regular Monday-Friday summer hours.

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