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Boston Weather: 35.0°F | A Few Clouds

Simmons Hall, Building 10 Flood

By Jonathan Wang

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Simmons Hall and Building 10 were flooded on Sunday night. Damage in both buildings was limited, and the water was largely cleaned up by Monday. In both buildings, fire alarms were also triggered around the time of the flooding.

According to staff at the Department of Facilities Operations Center, water from a broken heating coil in an air handling unit caused the flooding in Building 10.

The “flood was coming down the elevator shaft,” said Senior Library Assistant Carol L. Frederick, who was working in Barker Library when the flooding began.

“It was spectacular,” Frederick said. The water was “seeping down the lights all the way from the entrance to the reference desk, and the reading room also, but miraculously, there was no damage,” Frederick said. None of Barker Library’s collection was damaged by the flooding, she said.

A smoke detector in a sixth floor electrical closet in Building 10 was set off at the same time as the flooding. The room was “wet when I walked by it,” said custodian George H. Fichera.

Damage in most other rooms in Building 10 was limited, according to the Department of Facilities. “There was no equipment damage,” said Facilities Communication Console Operator Christopher Gilbert. “Everything was moved out of the labs in time, and offices were covered in plastic,” he said. The worst damage appeared to have occurred in room 10-400, which suffered extensive damage to the ceiling and some offices.

As a result of the flooding, one of the elevators in Building 10 was shut down. The Department of Facilities could not provide an estimated time for repair of the elevator.

Frozen pipe suspected in Simmons

In Simmons Hall, the first and second floor hallways were flooded. Water began pouring from the ceiling of the second-floor glass hallway. It “looked like Niagara Falls,” said Simmons resident Dheera Venkatraman ’06.

Simmons housemaster Professor John M. Essigmann said he suspected that the flooding was caused by a burst pipe. “The workman who came to reboot the system said, before he started working, that the damage was consistent with a frozen pipe,” Essigmann said, adding that he saw dripping about fifteen minutes before the flooding began.

The pipes in the hallway are sandwiched between two glass panels. “Perhaps having glass there isolates the pipes so that they could break from the cold,” Essigmann said. He said the flooding was a “settling-in problem for the building of Simmons.”

As in Building 10, a fire alarm was triggered in conjunction with the flooding. “We think the mist set off the alarm,” said Elvio A. Sadun ’05, noting that it “went off about 30 seconds after the water started.”

Student rooms appeared unaffected by the flooding, as the water was contained in the hallway and the area immediately below it. Water flowed out from under the glass panels to form a frozen cascade down the concrete steps outside. Water flowed “down the walls” to the first floor, “even though it was shut off thirty minutes beforehand,” Sadun said.

There appeared to be no damage to the dormitory’s services. The impact on the recently-opened dining hall was limited to losing “a half hour’s worth of work, because when the fire alarm went off, we had to shut everything down,” said Simmons Dining Supervisor Anthony Lyman.

Similarly, the second floor Athena cluster seemed unaffected by the flooding. The ground was quickly mopped up by custodians called in to handle the leak.

The Housing Office could not be reached for comment.