Ruptured pipe flooding causes $35,000 in damage

Two weeks ago, three burst pipes caused flooding across University buildings, including a burst in the ground floor of the Marvin Center. Now it is turning out to be an expensive clean-up operation.

Assistant Director of Media Relations Matt Lindsay listed the estimated cost of the damages at more than $35,000. This total includes about $2,000 to repair damages in the Marvin Center, about $10,000 to rebuild a nearly destroyed office and about $25,000 worth of property damage, according to the University Police Department.

One organization hit hardest by the floods was EMeRG, whose operations are still being conducted out of Crawford Hall after their office in the Marvin Center incurred water damage. Authorities said new theories have emerged over the cause of the flooding, which was blamed initially on just cold weather, said Michael Peller, managing director of the Marvin Center.

“It was a bad solder joint, and the weather compounded the problem,” he said. The Hatchet reported on Feb. 8 that frozen pipes ruptured and caused flooding in four campus buildings.

“It’s a considerable amount of damage,” Peller said, adding that “there was no interruption whatsoever” to the student-run emergency response team’s ability to do their jobs. Sections of the ceiling, floor and walls have been removed, he said.

No further steps are needed to prevent future flooding, Peller said. “We do everything we can to make sure the pipes are properly soldered and insulated.”

EMeRG members said the move has been inconvenient, but has not impacted their operations.

“It really hasn’t had any effect on us at all,” said Harland Westgate, EMeRG public relations supervisor and a graduate student. “The attitude then and now is very much a ‘wow, that was weird … okay, back to work.'” Westgate wrote in an e-mail.

A few portable radios got wet in the flood, Westgate said, but EMeRG has been utilizing borrowed radios from UPD until the damaged radios can be fixed or replaced.

“I have heard that there were some personal items damaged, including two laptop computers, and those claims are being processed through the University now,” Westgate said. One computer may have been destroyed and the other may be badly damaged, he said.

When personal property is damaged in situations like the recent flooding, students can request compensation through the Office of Risk Management, said Nancy Haaga, director of Campus Support Services. However, the current GW Housing License Agreement states that “whether or not due to the negligence of the University, the University shall not be responsible for any property of the student, which may be lost, damaged, stolen, or for any loss thereof occasioned by fire, the elements, or other causualty,” Haaga pointed out.

“Therefore, compensation (or) reimbursement requests for damage resulting from the recent water pipe breaks are unlikely to be approved as they were the result of the recent freezing cold weather temperatures in the region,” Haaga said.

Much of the repairs to the EMeRG office in the Marvin center have been completed, Haaga said, but “a completion date has not been determined.”

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