By Rose Cyburt
Back in December, temperatures dropped to the negatives. On Dec. 14, during the faculty Christmas party, a pipe in Dow froze and burst, flooding two chemical research labs.
“This is the second time in three years that the same sprinkler burst,” said Melissa Strait, professor of chemistry. When she walked into her lab from the party, she said she immediately knew where the water was coming from.
The first time the flooding occurred, Jackson Conner (’18) had gone to Dow early in the morning to prepare for a lab. The pipe had burst during the night, so the damage was more significant.
“I was surprised and couldn’t believe that it had happened a second time to the same lab,” said Conner. The day it happened again during the party, he had to stop by the lab and pick up an instrument. “My initial reaction was mostly just disbelief.”
Facilities discovered that there was missing insulation around one of the sprinkler heads in Professor of Chemistry Scott Hill’s research lab. The water seeped into the floor and eventually through to the ceiling tiles below.
The ceiling tiles collapsed into (Melissa) Strait’s research lab. “Professor Mazzuca and I had to pull all the computers and instruments away from the walls where the water was dripping down,” said Strait.
Fortunately, no computers or chemistry instruments were damaged, but the lab was drenched.
“Dr. Hill’s office and lab was not as bad as mine below,” said Strait. “The pipes upstairs were already cleaned out from the first time it flooded, but the water that came down brought all the dirt and mold from the floor and ceiling with it.”
Strait called the physical plant and facilities which came and immediately turned the water off. After only about an hour, maintenance had already started cleaning up the water and brought fans.
“The only place they could not clean was behind the carrels in the lab since I had stacked all the research materials on them,” said Strait.
Over the winter break, flooding had also occurred in one of the themed houses.
Students in small housing are to turn the thermostats down to 60 degrees during break periods.
“One of the houses had completely turned off the furnace causing the pipes to freeze and inevitably burst,” said Karl Rishe, vice president of student affairs.
The Theta Chi house also experienced issues as well when the members moved back in from break. Even though the furnace remained on, the sewage pipe had still frozen and burst.
“We had our sump pump unplugged so it took a while to clean,” said August Tierney (’18). “The campus was pretty quick in responding, it only took about an hour, but it isn’t fully clean yet.”
The house manager had to file another work order to finish the cleanup. Most items in the basement could not be saved.
“When the house manager called the first time, he contacted the administrator on duty who happened to be Matt Jones at the time,” said Tierney. “I’m assuming that is why the school responded so fast.”
Strait is still working to finish reorganizing everything in the lab and Theta Chi members are making sure to air out their basement until facilities can finish the cleanup.