Sandy floods basement of Hopkins cancer research building

pumping out water Cancer Center

Workmen pump out water from the Koch Cancer Research Building on Orleans Street yesterday.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

A Johns Hopkins Medicine building where cutting-edge oncology research is conducted suffered basement flooding Monday night during “superstorm” Sandy, forcing managers to shut off the power and sending researchers scrambling to secure perishable laboratory materials.

As Hopkins officials circulated an email yesterday morning warning staff that the “catastrophic power loss” could continue for as long as 72 hours, workers could be seen pumping water out from Cancer Research Building II at 1550 Orleans Street, also known as the Koch Cancer Research Building.

“Please be prepared to come in and secure your freezers, refrigerators and incubators,” said the email from IT administrator John Burtnick to hospital managers and supervisors.

Researchers were advised that flashlights would be helpful, that dry ice would be available and to “keep in mind that research animals may need to be relocated.”

The important research center sustained significant water damage from Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Hopkins shut down power to Cancer Research Building II Monday night after flooding from Sandy. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

It also noted that the computer server for the Oncology Department was down, leaving “clinical and administrative employees without access to email or any computer programs.”

Little Impact on Patient Care

Hopkins officials confirmed the flooding at CRB II and that power was shut off because of safety concerns.

But Sandy had “very little impact” overall on the Hopkins Hospital East Baltimore campus, according to Kim Hoppe, Johns Hopkins Medicine associate director, communications and public affairs. Other Baltimore medical facilities were, like Hopkins, braced for the storm with staff prepared to work extra shifts, but reported few problems.

By contrast, Sandy took a major toll on New York City hospitals. New York University Hospital, for example, suffered a blackout that required them to evacuate critically ill patients, guiding or carrying them down darkened steps, guided by flashlights, to the side walk below.

Hoppe said Hopkins is “still assessing the impact” of the flooding and power shut-off in the building, where labs for cancer research and other specialties are located.

“Research assets requiring refrigeration or incubation were moved to a neighboring building and other locations. Dry ice was also brought in to help preserve research assets,” Hoppe wrote in an email to The Brew. “Rodents used in research were not harmed and have been moved to other facilities on campus.”

The 267,000 square-foot building, dedicated in 2006, was the result of a $20 million cancer research gift from billionaire David H. Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries Inc.

It’s not the first recent report of flooding at Hopkins. Heavy rains in July reportedly caused some minor flooding at the ambulance entrance to the Hopkins emergency room, with some water to leak into the building. Firefighters cleared a storm drain and the water went down.

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  • Unellu

    Golly no place is immune.  I read that all the research mice were wiped out at NYU hospital.  PETA would proclaim they were saved from research violation, by violent Sandy– in the eye of the beholder as usual.  Hopkins does fantastic cancer research.  They ought to spend more money to water proof their research buildings. I just can’t believe what came to pass in NYU hospital.  A woman in labor was slid down a long, dark stairwell, even as she moaned in pain.  She did deliver her baby but not without some terrifying moments for her hapless husband.  I say hurray for flashlights and batteries. 
    Even better a cave.  No place like a deep down cave, surrounded by cave artists and paleolithic musicians to ride out a storm of the intensity of Sandy.  A morsel of mammoth elephant for breakfast and all will be right with the world when the storm passes.  Instead we have stinking basements, conked out sump pumps, zonked out generators, broken cranes, washed out boardwalks, blown off roofs, buckled houses and ubiquitous politicians
    promising the moon, stars and galaxies to the devastated ones.  Modernity–it is not what
    it is made out to be–progress.  It can be squashed in a minute by mother nature who is best buddy to no one who takes her for granted. Nevertheless, I love her.  The way she roared across the breadth and width of Sandy, she is as primitive and ferocious as the singularity that spawned her.             

  • Gerald Neily

    The basement is where they keep the secret cryogenic chambers for the rich, frozen susplendidly animated undead.

    • JS

       Ah yes, high tech catacombs so we can keep some of our former mayors in suspended animation…or not.

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