|By Gregory Richards, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 15, 2004 - A malfunctioning pump at the Adam's Mark hotel on Dec. 1 caused an estimated $2 million of water damage that took 240 rooms out of service, just days prior to the Jaguars/Pittsburgh Steelers football game that had the 966-room hotel booked to capacity.
Staffers at the downtown hotel scrambled to find rooms at hotels stretching from St. Augustine to South Georgia, said Mark Kaiser, the hotel's new general manager. Among those forced to reside in other hotels were officials from the National Football League, who were in Jacksonville reviewing plans for the Feb. 6 Super Bowl.
The Adam's Mark will be the Super Bowl headquarters hotel.
The pump filled the hotel's hot water pipes with too much liquid, triggering the opening of eight pressure relief valves on the 19th floor, the top floor. Water from valves puddled 6-inches deep in the 19th floor hallway, and then cascaded through the rest of the structure, causing damage as far below as the fourth floor.
"You could almost surf in the hallway," Kaiser said.
"But the staff handled it real well and everything's great," he said. "We were all up to our calves in water, pushing water and moving guests, finding rooms -- we worked well as a team. We did whatever was necessary."
Many of the rooms were booked at the time of the 4 p.m. flooding. Guests had to be recalled from ground floor meeting rooms to retrieve their belongings.
Most of the affected rooms are still out of service, needing various amounts of new wallpaper, carpet, furniture and bedding, Kaiser said. The first damaged floor reopened Tuesday, and another four floors are expected to return to service today. All rooms are scheduled to be repaired by Dec. 23, in time for the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl.
Kaiser said a flooding problem like that had never before occurred in the hotel, which opened in 2001.
About 45 of the NFL's 125 officials in Jacksonville that weekend had to be relocated, said Jim Steeg, the League executive in charge of the Super Bowl. He said he wasn't concerned about the flooding.
"Obviously, it's nice to happen now instead of [February]," he said. "That's one of the things to stay on top of."
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