Water is a powerful force. If harnessed, it can power millions of homes. However, if it is unleashed, there can be devastating effects. On New Year’s Day, the residents of Art House, a special interest floor, found out just how damaging water can be.
Above the handicapped-accessible bathroom on the second floor of Colby Hall, a water pipe burst due to freezing temperatures, according to Chuck Lamb, director of Residence Life. Water began leaking through the drop ceiling and into the bathroom below.
The floor, which was equipped with a drain, was tiled with a cellulose-based material, said Lamb. As the tiles were submerged, they disintegrated and clogged the drain. The water then spread to the hall and, eventually, into 18 rooms.
“The only way it could have gotten that cold is if the bathroom window had been left open,” said Lamb. The force of the water caused steam to be released, which set off the fire alarms that alerted Public Safety. When officers responded to the alarm they found the floors covered in water. According to Lamb, within two hours of the discovery, Residence Life had notified the affected students.
“Our freshman hallway is the area that got flooded,” said Bryan Roberts, a second year Digital Cinema major and co-president of Art House. “Everybody who was affected ... had to talk to Public Safety and get an individual incident report.”
Risk Management, a department in the office of Finance and Administration, received the reports and will be compensating students for damages, noted Lamb. Damaged Art House equipment is also being replaced. Unfortunately, some of the damaged property cannot be replaced.
“Some people had both their portfolios and artwork that other people had done for them on the floor and that got ruined,” said Roberts.
“You can’t put a value on those sorts of things.”
When the 21 affected students returned from the holiday break, they were put into temporary housing. “We had some openings in the system,” said Lamb, explaining that some students were housed in dorms, while others were placed at the RIT Inn.
“It was a little bit of a hassle for them,” commented Roberts. “But at least they had a place to stay that was comfortable.”
A private company called Rapid Dry was contracted to mitigate the water damage. It took them until January 10 to dry out the rooms, which had damage in both the flooring and the walls. The company also sprayed a chemical to prevent mold growth, stated Roberts.
Overall, said Lamb, he’s pleased with the cooperation of the students and staff that worked on this problem. “It was an incredibly collaborative process,” said Lamb enthusiastically.
Residents began moving back into their rooms on Sunday, January 11. Life seems to be returning to normal, according to Roberts, “Everyone has moved back in now ... everything is dried out ... [but] it’s still a little messy.”