After heavy winds and unrelenting rain this past weekend, several residential and academic buildings on campus had leaks.
East Campus experienced mostly “basement flooding,” according to House Manager Joseph F. Graham, although four students also reported leaks in their room. “For even one resident to report a leak is considered unusual,” Graham said.
Water leaking onto steam pipes in this dorm’s basement created “an effective ceiling of steam in the basement and [set] off the fire alarms” on Sunday night and Monday morning, according to East Campus President Robin L. Deits ’11. Some residents resorted to wrapping smoke detectors in plastic bags to prevent the alarms from going off.
On the other side of campus, most of the leaks in Baker House occurred on the top floor in rooms situated near roof storm drains. Four Baker residents e-mailed House Manager Jonathan F. Nolan to report leaks in their rooms, and Nolan said the most serious cases were due to windows being left open during the storm.
Nolan, who is also House Manager for Bexley, said that Bexley experienced minor leaks as water found its way down the dorm’s chimney stacks.
“It was such a bad storm,” Nolan said. With gusts up to 40 mph and nonstop rain, “we’re bound to get seepage,” he added. About 8 inches of rain pounded the Boston area in a 72-hour period, leaving headaches for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and wastewater systems.
Even a Next House elevator showed water problems. “When the elevator was moving, there was this loud rush of water you could hear from next to the elevator from the inside,” Nicholas G. Dou ’12 said.
Basements in Senior House, East Campus, MacGregor, Next House and Westgate are especially vulnerable to flooding. According to Dennis J. Collins, Director of Housing, “the underground water table in this area of Cambridge is high. With this much rain the water table rose above the foundations of our buildings.” While there was no serious water damage on campus, “roofing and water proofing contractors have been on campus since Tuesday” to investigate for leak repairs, said Collins.
On Monday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency.
The storm caused several problems for the MBTA subway system, including a washed-out track on the Green line. According to The Boston Globe, a 50-foot gap opened underneath the tracks near the Reservoir Station in Newton, stopping subway service through that area. In cases of subway track flooding, buses carried passengers instead. Sandbags were piled high in the Fenway station on the Green line to prevent flooding by the swollen Muddy River.
A Massachusetts Water Resources Authority sewage plant on Nut Island in Quincy resorted to emptying untreated wastewater into Quincy Bay in response to a threat of overflow within the system. The Globe reported that the “controlled release is mostly water and is permitted under environmental regulations in an emergency.”
“The storm this weekend was very unusual in that we received 1-2 months worth (about 8 inches) of wind driven rain in 2 days. We only see this type of storm once every 5-10 years,” said Collins.