Pipe bursts in Brewster, students evacuated

A leak from a burst pipe in Brewster Hall forced a partial evacuation of the building for several hours Saturday evening. Almost all students were allowed to return to their rooms that night, but the building will be without hot water for an indefinite period of time.

The 3-by-5-foot pipe on the third floor of Brewster burst and began leaking at about 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, according to office of Residential Education & Housing (ResEd) staff.

The leak was heavy enough to cause flooding, which seeped down to the second and ground floors of the building, damaging ceilings, walls and some student property and equipment.

“Students and staff reacted quickly, minimizing damage by covering possessions and equipment with plastic,” Matthew Golden, executive director for Public Affairs, wrote via e-mail.

Students were told to either place their valuables up high before leaving their rooms, or to take them with them.

Mary Shaw, sophomore early childhood education and women’s and gender studies major, was out of her ground-floor room at the time of the flooding, but received notice of the incident by phone from her roommate.

“She said we had been told to get all our valuables out,” Shaw said.

Leakage was largely limited to the low side of the building.

“We went door to door to tell students that they would have to leave the building,” Constance Acquah, Brewster office assistant (OA), said.

Facilities staff were at the scene almost immediately, according to ResEd staff and residents.

“They were really efficient,” Shaw said.

Facilities staff cleaned out the water from hallways with industrial vacuums and removed damaged materials from the building in trash bags.

Two rooms, 201 and 202, suffered significant damage during the flooding and will require repairs throughout the week.

“The leak was fixed that evening, and we are replacing drywall ceilings in rooms 201 and 202, which should be completed by Friday,” Golden said.

According to Chelsea Ray, assistant residence director, 40 to 50 students were cleared from the building before Kathryn Leverton, associate vice president of Facilities and Administrative Services, said it would be safe for students to return to their rooms that night.

“There’s a little bit of mess, but it wouldn’t have been anything to displace students for any significant period of time,” Ray said.

Shaw said that while some damage to ceiling tiles was noticeable on the ground floor, the damage was minimal compared to the two floors above.

Eight humidifiers remained in place Monday to facilitate drying.

In all, the incident was minor compared to flooding in New Residence Hall last year, which displaced some residents for a night.

“I don’t think it was as bad as New Res.,” Shaw said. “It definitely wasn’t as bad as that.”