A broken pipe on the roof of Samuel Mather Hall caused massive water damage to the building over winter break. Water seeped down to all four floors, damaging the drywall and ceiling tiles in classrooms, labs and office spaces.
Although the maintenance staff responded quickly to the incident when Campus Safety alerted them to the leak, some of the damage to the drywall and ceiling was irreparable.
The damage did not only affect the building. The departments had to move lab animals that the neuroscience department is monitoring for long-term experiments. This move will inevitably affect the results, according to Professor of Neuroscience Hewlet McFarlane.
“That’s very stressful for animals, so the stress will alter their behavior and their brain chemistry and their immune function, so it will take a while for them to get back to normal,” McFarlane said. “So until that occurs they’re not really usable as research animals.”
Steve Arnett, director of facility operations, wrote in an email that the leak probably was due to a frozen pipe bursting, and that the maintenance team immediately shut off the water and repaired the pipe when they found the source.
Maintenance also quickly began to vacuum the water off the floors and replace ceiling tiles that were waterlogged. Dana Krieg, associate professor of psychology, said that there was standing water in the hallways of the building.
“Unfortunately most of the damage was on the first floor because it had nowhere else to go,”
lucky that someone came into the building and saw it, because it was the Friday before New Year’s, and if someone hadn’t come in here until the day after New Year’s — I can’t even wrap my head around it.”
Arnett also wrote that the College hired Rainbow Restoration, an outside contractor, to come in and help with the repair. They were on site the same day of the leak, and began drying the floors, as well as removing any wet drywall. Arnett wrote that approximately 5,200 square feet of drywall was removed from the building, and 2,100 square feet of ceiling tiles were replaced.
Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said he did not yet know how much this repair would cost the College.
Kohlman said the College is now focused on restoring and repairing the building. He said that crews will move into the building over spring break to replace the drywall and administer any other repairs the building may need. Arnett said that they will also repaint the drywall and ceiling tiles that were replaced, and shampoo the carpets to remove water stains.
All in all, Arnett said he is happy with how quickly the water damage was managed.
“We went from standing water in the hallways and soaked ceiling tiles falling to the floor to a building that could be occupied and continue the normal course of business in less than two weeks,” Arnett wrote.
Krieg was also pleased with how quickly the maintenance department was able to clean up the building.
Although building repair is moving along quickly, MacFarlane said the flooding still may alter the results in the experiments, which may force some professors and students to repeat them in the coming months.
“You don’t have the luxury of simply packing it in,” McFarlane said. “At the most, what it means is that any experiments we do now we’ll have to repeat entirely again. … So at the minimum we’ll be repeating all of our experiments.”
However, despite the setbacks, McFarlane said the department will continue to follow their normal working schedule.
“This sort of thing is never good,” he said. “But, it happens, so you simply deal with it and keep going.”