Some Harrison College House residents returned from winter break to find fans, mops and other cleaning equipment in their dorm rooms and hallways.
Near the end of break, cold weather and open windows throughout Harrison caused several water pipes to crack and leak. About 50 rooms below the 11th floor were affected by “steam and water infiltration,” according to Residential Services Administrator Paul Forchielli.
Most of the flooding occurred on Jan. 4 and 5. The lobby, mezzanine, computer lab, first floor conference room and the house office suffered damage to ceiling tiles, walls and carpets.
Business and Residential Services contacted the small number of students who could not return to their rooms and made arrangements to house some of them in the Sheraton hotel located at 35th and Chestnut streets. Others have been able to return with no significant damage to their rooms.
“Although restoration will continue and some equipment will remain in place, most of the students can return from break on their normal schedule,” Business Services spokesperson Barbara Lea-Kruger wrote in an email.
Wharton and College sophomore Chris Chan, who lives in a quad on the first floor of Harrison, arrived back to Penn on Monday. He and his roommates are now living in the Sheraton.
The first direct notice Chan received from Harrison about the pipe leakage came in a general email that Business Services sent to the entire house on Friday. Later that evening, he received a personal email alerting him that his room in particular was affected.
While there was no significant damage to his room when he returned to campus, he thought it “would have been nice if [Penn provided] more information on what to do” about finding alternative housing before arriving back to campus.
Not knowing about his room’s situation until Friday — at which point news of the leakage had already spread via Facebook and Twitter — also frustrated Chan.
Like Chan, College sophomore and Harrison resident Chloe Blacker is currently living in a room at the Sheraton.
“I’m not complaining about being in the Sheraton — it’s not that bad,” she said. She is concerned, however, about being able to return to her second-floor Harrison room before she leaves for a squash tournament this weekend.
According to Lea-Kruger, students whose rooms have been affected will be able to return to Harrison shortly.
Over the course of Thursday evening, a steady stream of water was seen dripping onto the floor of the Harrison lobby. Fans, water buckets and mops were brought in as part of the clean-up effort.
Blacker and one of her roommates, Nursing sophomore Courtney Jones, recounted their initial experiences during the flood early Thursday. They experienced a “waterfall” of flooding in their room, Jones said.
“There was water coming out of the walls and the ceiling started falling down,” she said. “Our whole room was filled within 15 minutes.”
Blacker said they were told by Harrison staff members that it was no longer safe for them to stay in their room. They temporarily moved to a friend’s off-campus house before taking the Sheraton rooms they are in now.
Responsibility for damaged items will be determined on a “case by case basis in accordance with the University’s insurance and risk management procedures,” Lea-Kruger wrote.
There have been no other reported incidents of flooding in other College House residences over winter break.
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