Last Saturday, water from a burst pipe in Moulton Union damaged walls, ceiling tiles and furniture in one room on the first floor of the building and also caused a leak in the dining hall located in the basement.
The majority of the damage occurred in Room 116A, a room in the offices of Career Exploration and Development (CXD). The pipe, which had frozen, split and then thawed, was located directly above the room. A wooden table and several ceiling tiles were damaged. Water trickled down the walls and through the floor of the room, causing leakage in the neighboring rooms and hallways.
Since it was the weekend, no employees of CXD were present when the leaking began. At approximately 10 a.m. Saturday morning, Facilities Management was first notified of water dripping from a light fixture in one room of the dining hall, commonly referred to as the light room. Facilities employees shortly thereafter identified and isolated the source of the leak, and dining employees evacuated the light room.
Julianna Kiley ’20 was one of the students eating in the light room when the leak began.
“I was trying to get to the gluten-free fridge [which is located in the light room] and I was like, ‘What happened? Where’s the fridge? What’s going on?’ And one of the workers came up to me and said, ‘A big pipe burst, a big, important pipe, and honestly this whole thing could come down at any time.’ That’s what I was told,” said Kiley.
Interim Director of Dining Services Ken Cardone wrote in an email to the Orient that there was no danger of ceiling tiles falling down. According to Interim Director of Facilities Operations and Management Jeff Tuttle, however, the section of the light room where water was dripping was, and remains, cordoned off with curtains and metal rods as a safety precaution.
The priority now Tuttle said, is drying out the walls and ceiling tiles affected to prevent growth of mold. Facilities called ServPro, a water damage service in Brunswick, to bring in fans and dehumidifiers to expedite the drying process.
Tuttle estimates that the section will remain blocked off until early next week, once Facilities has assessed the area for structural damage and removed any unstable parts.
“Once we remove the barriers, there will be no danger,” Tuttle said. “We’ll double check and triple check and make sure everything is secure before we allow people to pass underneath.”
But getting everything looking good as new again will have to wait for students to leave campus for a few days.
“We won’t be able to do repairs until probably March break, when the community is out of here for a couple of weeks,” said Tuttle.
Tuttle does not yet know the cost of the damage, since, he said, “it depends on what we can salvage and what we can’t.” He estimates that it could cost thousands of dollars, considering the cost of immediate mitigation of water damage, the cost of calling in external services and replacing damaged furniture and infrastructure.
Cardone wrote that, besides having to move a few tables, chairs and items normally near the affected area, dining employees have been able to work around the problem.
Upstairs, the wall between the office of Bethany Walsh, associate director of skill development and programming for CXD, and 116A was damaged. Nothing in her office was damaged, but the carpet smells like mildew, Walsh noted. Fans are currently working to dry her office, while Walsh has taken refuge in a conference room elsewhere in the CXD offices.
“That’s the nice thing about my particular job, I can kind of duck in anywhere,” said Walsh. “It might just mean a little creativity.”
Rohini Kurup contributed to this report.