Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students, Facilities Weather Harbin Flood Aftermath

Hoya Photo 5The university has traced the source of a Saturday flood that affected the second and third floors of Harbin Hall to a burst air conditioning pipe, as some students remain dissatisfied with the pace and quality of the university’s response.

Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing, confirmed that the cause of the flooding was a ruptured 3/4-inch water pipe behind the wall of a student’s room in Harbin.

“Maintenance was notified by residents of the room below that there was a leak coming from their ceiling,” Frank said. “The room above was checked and the leak traced by first checking the fan coil unit and then taking part of the wall down to find the rupture.”
Frank added that these incidents are difficult to predict, which complicates attempts at prevention.

“Hidden conditions do not enable us to anticipate something like this, particularly when the piping is relatively new. Our response is to locate the source of the problem, make necessary repairs and to clean up and restore the space,” Frank said.

Residents have reported that building cleanup efforts have not been effective.

“As of right now, the floors are still completely damp and we have the dehumidifiers going all day and at night as well,” said Julia Donnantuono (COL ’13), a Harbin third-floor resident who lives one room over from where the pipe burst.

“The worst part about the situation right now is the smell in our room,” Donnantuono said. “I slept in the room last night, but I really don’t think that it’s a good idea to be sleeping in there.”

She called for the university to consider replacing the flooring entirely. “I really don’t understand how this problem can be solved without the school replacing the carpets because of the smell and mildew that is accumulating,” she said.

Donnantuono added that repairs have not proceeded as originally scheduled.

“The carpets were supposed to be shampooed on Saturday night, but apparently they will not be shampooing them until [Tuesday],” Donnantuono said. “I made claims for damages to my towels on the [university Office of] Risk Management Web site, but I have not heard back from them yet.”

Frank said that although the water spread to more than a dozen rooms, it will not be necessary to replace the carpeting in the affected areas.

“Custodial service personnel have been to all of these rooms to dry the carpeting,” Frank said. “Shampooing and application of biocide is progressing. The carpet is glued directly to the concrete floor rather than laid over the padding, so the drying, shampooing and application of biocide will restore the carpeting without replacement. Each of the rooms will continue to be checked to assure that this is the case.”

On Saturday, water could be seen dripping from the windows of affected rooms and collecting on the side patio facing the Leavey Center.

“I came back around 3 [p.m.] and found three inches of water outside my room,” said Alexandra D’Agostino (MSB ’13), a resident on the third floor of Harbin.

D’Agostino said that she was able to salvage most of her possessions that had been affected by the water.

“We saved a lot before anything got wet. Some things that were closer to the door got a little more damaged,” D’Agostino said.

In an e-mail sent to the affected floors, Harbin Hall Director Patrick Denice spoke of the facilities staff’s immediate response to the flood.

“Our outstanding facilities staff has turned off that A/C unit [linked to the burst pipe] and has been hard at work containing and cleaning up the flood.”

Students reportedly resorted to using trash cans to throw water out of their windows.

Donnantuono reported that the flooding spread in her hallway and all through the side of her Harbin cluster. She said her attempts to stop the water from seeping into her room with towels were fruitless.

“It’s been a pretty frustrating experience,” Donnantuono said, adding that initially maintenance did not respond to the flooding as quickly as she had hoped. “It was bad in the beginning, but they got there eventually.”

Joanna Foote (SFS ’13), a resident of Harbin’s seventh floor, said that flooding affected the building’s lobby as well, indicating that water was dripping from the ceiling.

According to Kylie Davis (NHS ’13), the flooding was evident near the elevators in the building.

“I walked in up the stairs, and there was water on the stairs,” Davis said. “I opened the door, and I would say that there was probably an inch or two of water in the lobby outside the elevators. I heard people talking about how there was [water] in the elevators – [it was] running down them.”

Denice’s e-mail also indicated that students in affected rooms would be able to receive temporary housing from the university. Those students were also directed to the Office of Risk Management to receive reimbursement for damaged items and laundry charges due to the flood.

“As I have been walking through the building,” Denice’s e-mail concluded, “I have noticed how positive you all have been. I really appreciate the high level of camaraderie demonstrated as we’ve worked together.”

D’Agostino added that the staff and third-floor residents have come together to clean up after the flooding.

“I definitely saw a lot of people on the floor working together and a lot of staff working really hard,” D’Agostino said.

Anna Sannes (COL ’11), a resident assistant on the eighth floor in Harbin Hall, and Denice declined to comment.

Hoya Staff Writer Eamon O’Connor contributed to this report.

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