Thanks to UBIT Staff Who Saved Servers During Norton Flood

Paul Francavilla and the UBIT Fairy

Paul Francavilla, one of the first UBIT staffers on the scene during the Norton Flood on March 6, 2017, takes a selfie with the UBIT Fairy at an event honoring the IT staff who helped save the servers during the flood.

Published April 18, 2017

By Gabriela Diaz

While many were not impacted by the flood in Norton Hall on March 6, 2017, some critical technology was at risk. There could have been catastrophic damage were it not for the resourcefulness of a few UBIT staff members.

Gabriela Diaz

Gabriela Diaz (UB Student, Class of 2017) is an English major and is also minoring in Japanese Studies. After graduating, she wants to travel overseas to Japan to teach English. A Rochester, NY native, Gabriela enjoys making playlists, painting and bike riding in her spare time.


Norton is home to some of UB’s core IT systems, and within an hour there was an inch of water on the floor in the machine room. But before that, UBIT staff members sprang into action to avert a major IT disaster.

Surveying the Scene

“An administrative office on the other side of the hall on the upper floor had a sprinkler malfunction and it poured water out,” said Stephen Comings, Systems Software Manager for UBIT. The water ran accross the hall into the data center. He recalls surveying the scene in the data center first thing that Monday morning.

“It was really scary, water was pouring down and ceiling tiles were broken,” Stephen said. “Nothing you want to see in a data center.”

Jumping into Action

“Paul Francavilla and Adam Pawlowski headed down with plastic sheeting to cover and protect the physical machines, while others worked to migrate UB’s services to locations designated for backup in the event of an emergency,” Stephen said. Stephen, along with his fellow managers, Associate Director Larry Schnitzer, and all available IT staff, worked to ensure stakeholders were informed, and crucial services being used across campus could remain online.

As a result, what could have been a catastrophic functional and financial loss for the university instead had a brief and minimal impact on UB students, faculty and staff.

The People Behind the Scenes

UBIT staff members who were honored for their work during the Norton flood

UBIT staffers were honored by VPCIO J. Brice Bible for their work to save the Norton flood.

Now UBIT is showing its gratitude for the proactive IT staff who averted disaster with an honorary celebration hosted by the VPCIO’s office.

“Our IT staff regularly rise to the occasion in the face of adversity,” said VPCIO J. Brice Bible. “It’s their proactive, engaged attitude that keep our services up and running no matter the circumstances.”

While the events in Norton Hall touched all IT staff, the VPCIO would like to extend his gratitude to the following individuals for their prominent role in saving UBIT services:

  • Tim Knab
  • Jeff Walczak
  • Michael Benner
  • Mark Zalikowski
  • Brad Beardslee
  • Lee Liolios
  • Jay Jackson
  • Ed Szynaka
  • Chris Bates
  • Al Joyner
  • Peter Connolly
  • Steve Sirianni
  • Tony Consiglio
  • Kathy Hayes
  • John Ball
  • Andy Benson
  • Scott Hendershot
  • Gar Lee
  • Vas Menon
  • Bill Sefranek
  • Heidi Wieczorek
  • Drew Baldi
  • Steve Roder
  • Lea Braham
  • Matt Helmbrecht
  • Kelli Scott
  • Jason Loretz
  • Matt DeTine
  • Larry Schnitzer
  • Chris Candlena
  • Steve Comings
  • Steve Heist
  • Lisa Neal
  • Adam Pawlowski
  • Marc Doull
  • Tina Reed
  • Paul Francavilla
  • Jerry Bucklaew
  • Joe Pautler