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Dorms, PBL, Adelbert get wet following freeze

Ross Wasserstrom

Issue date: 1/30/09 Section: News
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The icy, slushy, freezing-cold nightmare that is winter weather hasn't stopped at inconveniencing students and maintenance crews while they are outside - now, it's causing chaos indoors as well. Several pipes burst around campus between Friday, Jan. 16 and Saturday, Jan. 17, with some first-year dorms (Hitchcock, Cutler, Storrs, and Pierce) experiencing water rushing down stairwells and pooling in lobbies as pipes froze in the unusually cold weather. A large water pipe also froze and subsequently burst in the Peter B. Lewis Building (PBL), home to the Weatherhead School of Management, and a similar situation occurred in Adelbert Hall, causing flooding on the ground floor. That particular Friday saw temperatures reach minus 13 degrees F, the coldest day of this winter by several degrees. The only other days thus far with temperatures reaching below zero were the day before that (minus 2 degrees) and the day after ( minus 3 degrees).

No student living areas were damaged, but several rooms throughout PBL have already had extensive repair work done to replace damaged or destroyed electrical wiring, carpet, and drywall.

Todd Rasmussen serves as associate director of Housing and Residence Life and oversees damage control and repair in situations such as this.

According to Rasmussen, that Friday was "one of the most abnormally cold days" he has experienced in his six years with the university.

Rasmussen was in charge of assessing, maintaining, and repairing the damaged areas in the first-year dorms. The repair work is proceeding on schedule, but may not be completed for some time, as the university assesses the insurance value of damaged parts and decides whether to fix the pipes that broke or replace them with an entirely new system.

"We do prepare for cold weather," said Mr. Rasmussen. "In our case, it just happened."

There are crews on campus in case of such an emergency at all times, but this particular Friday Rasmussen called in extra personnel to help repair damage and prevent further pipes from bursting. All four of the dorms were affected in some capacity, but Rasmussen said not all vulnerable pipes burst.
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