The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 74.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

EC Residents Displaced In Sunday Night Deluge

By Angeline Wang

MIT officials are still in the process of determining why two sprinkler heads in the east parallel of East Campus discharged on the evening of Sept. 17, flooding rooms on the fourth and fifth floors.

The sprinkler heads, located in a fifth floor kitchen, discharged “an incredible amount of water” at around 7:45 p.m. that evening, Dennis Collins, associate director of operations for the Department of Housing, said in a phone interview yesterday. According to Collins, the sprinklers would “never let go unless there was major heat. We’re still trying to figure out what happened.”

EC Associate Housemaster Sharon N. Snaggs declined to comment, stating that the situation has not yet been resolved.

Two sections of the fourth and fifth floors of the east parallel of East Campus were closed down on the night of Sept. 17, because MIT Facilities was worried about possible electrical issues with the water. The displaced residents “bunked in with someone else in EC. It was a great response from all the residents,” Collins said.

“We were offered temporary housing in Sidney-Pacific for the night, but no students took that option, instead choosing to crowd into rooms on the open third of the hall, or sleep with friends elsewhere,” Aaron C. Bader G, EC graduate resident tutor for the fourth floor of the east parallel, said in an e-mail. “We were allowed to get stuff from the rooms, under the watchful eye of Facilities and the MIT police.”

Over 20 rooms initially received water damage, according to Collins. Since the first day, the water has also trickled down to the first floor and basement. “The damage was extensive,” EC House Manager Joseph F. Graham said in a phone interview last Thursday.

The cleaners arrived at EC on the morning of Monday, Sept. 18, the day after the flooding, Collins said, and the rooms were cleaned out by Monday afternoon. Not all students returned to their rooms, however, as “some student chose not to return until everything had dried out.” All the student rooms are currently livable.

“We’re lucky,” Collins said, because most of the rooms had minor damages. The laundry rooms were available to residents for free all last week, as anything that was on the floor — clothing, for instance — needed to be washed.

“Most of the water leaked in through the closets so most of the damaged personal articles were clothing and food,” Bader said. “Some textbooks were damaged as well. Anyone living in the vicinity with a throw rug, had to chuck it.”

“My room wasn’t too bad,” Jessica H. Lowell ’07, who lives on the fifth floor of the east parallel, said in an e-mail. “I didn’t lose anything valuable, I just had to wash a lot of clothes when I got back.”

The carpet on the fifth floor of the east parallel, right outside the kitchen, is being replaced, and the kitchen and lounge near the kitchen will need to be replaced in their entirety, according to Bader.

“Almost anything that people had on the floor in rooms near the kitchen was ruined,” Bader said.

The fourth floor carpet will also need to be replaced. Housing will continue assessing the damage to determine what else is necessary, Collins said.

“All of the student rooms have been cleaned and are livable,” Bader said in an e-mail yesterday. “My room, the GRT suite, is carpeted and the carpeting will need to be replaced. The bedroom is worse than the other room, and I am unable to sleep there because of the smell, and I’m assuming, health hazard. Since the tiles underneath contain asbestos, they will also need to abate the room for asbestos.” Bader will be staying in Eastgate graduate residence for a month, he said, while his EC room is sealed off to deal with the asbestos abatement.

MIT will not reimburse students for damaged personal belongings. MIT housing policy states that “the Institute assumes no responsibility for loss or damage to personal property of students or guests. This includes, but is not limited to, loss by fire, theft, water, and malfunction of electrical or mechanical systems. Residents are advised to obtain insurance to cover their personal property or check if their parent’s homeowner policy will apply.”

Benjamin P. Gleitzman contributed to the reporting for this article.