The smell that is permeating Loeb as of late is not the result of a student forgetting their lunchbox over the weekend, and the smell of lemon pine-sol is not due to wood floors being scrubbed. During a recent rainstorm, a city sewer line broke and flooded the basement of the Loeb Center for the Performing Arts. The basement, which the Drama Department uses for costume and properties storage, filled up with sewage, in some parts over a foot.
A Hazmat cleanup crew came to remove the sewage, but the bacteria in the sewage poses a problem for the health of students, faculty and staff. The crew cleaned and disinfected the basement itself, but cleanup of the items in the basement remains a monumental task.
The basement, which contains over five rooms full of theatrical items that have been collected in more than 24 years that GFS has owned the Loeb building, is an important storage space.
“We determined that we really had to clean, throw out, anything that was touching any of the sewage, which is a lot of stuff, shoes and boxes and props, costumes. As a lot of our things were up high, none the less, by the time we cleaned it all out and started this sort of antiseptic clean up part, we realized we have to clean everything,” said Lisa Burns, the head of the Drama department.
Burns and benevolent members of our community have been laundering and disinfecting items from the basement, but even so, she expects the cleanup to take a more than a month.
Despite the headache that came with the flood, Burns adds, “with every catastrophe, there’s an upside. The upside is that we’re going to have a complete inventory of everything, we’re really throwing out things that just are beyond repair; We’re cleaning up a collection that has expanded thirty years.”
Since the assemblage of costumes is being trimmed back to only to costumes in good condition, there will be more room for the collection to grow with higher quality and newer pieces.
“And as we get the word out, we’re getting new donations, which is very exciting,” said Burns.