The onslaught of harsh weather conditions—below-zero temperatures, snow, sleet and rain—had University Facilities working to combat some of the negative effects on campus over the past few days, including frozen pipes and icy roads.
Professor Aditya Adarkar, who had some flooding in his Dickson Hall office Sunday afternoon, said that he didn’t know how much water had accumulated, because, by the time he arrived there that night, it had already been cleaned up.
“The response was an admirable example of the great work of the maintenance crew and the community coming together,” said Adarkar.
Shawn Connolly, Vice President of University Facilities, said that the flooding was caused by a sprinkler head exploding on the first floor. The sliding doors at the building’s entrance had not closed, and that four-inch gap between doors during the weekend’s negative temperatures was enough to freeze the pipe and break the sprinkler head.
“Water poured into the first floor and into the elevator pit,” said Connolly. “Facilities staff, as a precaution, secured the elevators until the water could be removed.”
As a victim of this gushing water, Adarkar said that a colleague who was there when it happened alerted him about the flooding and helped the facilities staff move his wet books to the table in the department’s seminar room.
“I cannot list a thing that was missing or damaged that I will miss. Some books got wet but they have dried,” Adarkar said. He came later Sunday night to bring his things back into his office which was already “dry, clean and sanitized” by the time he arrived.
“I’m grateful to my colleagues and the crew and, frankly, very impressed that they could manage the situation so well on a Sunday afternoon,” said Adarkar.
According to Connolly, “We did have several other breaks. However, the facilities staff did an amazing job as usual minimizing the effects to the rest of the campus.”
In the wake of the weekend’s issues, Connolly described Monday’s snow storm as a “tricky” one. Although snow accumulation was minimal and the flurries gradually turned to rain, the ground remained cold even with the rising temperatures and the precipitation turned to ice on the roads.
Some student had difficulties walking around campus in the icy conditions Monday night. “I was walking back from class and the sidewalks were slippery,” said Jason Graubard, a junior business major. “I spoke to a girl on the shuttle who fell twice and said she got a concussion.”
Geri Posa, a junior sociology major, said, “I saw some people slipping in front of Machuga [Heights].”
“We had our first conference call before 3 a.m. [on Tuesday] to begin to assess the conditions on campus,” Connolly said, explaining that the staff attempts to predict and evaluate the morning’s conditions before deciding to close.
“The temperatures did not rise fast enough, however, and President Cole made the right choice to delay the opening,” said Connolly. “As always, President Cole is extremely sensitive to issues surrounding safety.”
Due to the dangerous conditions, the university had a delayed opening on Tuesday, Feb. 16. All classes scheduled before 11 a.m. were cancelled, and the campus reopened on Tuesday afternoon to temperatures in the 50s and pouring rain.