Another instance of flooding in Harrison College House caused damage to the first five floors of the building amid a wave of cold temperatures.
The flooding, which occurred on Saturday, started on the fifth floor around 1 p.m. and worked its way down to the lobby and exterior of the building. By 1:30 p.m., Penn Police officers began evacuating people in the lobby and on the affected floors. They also took down the names and email addresses of those who were affected. A fire alarm went off in the building to notify residents of the incident.
The latest round of high-rise flooding comes just over one month after open windows let in cold air that cracked pipes, which flooded multiple floors in Harnwell and Harrison College Houses. That round of flooding affected 213 residents. This past Saturday, temperatures in Philadelphia reached a low of 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Penn Business Services Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian that 35 residents were affected by the most recent flooding, including 24 for whom Penn provided accommodations at Sheraton Philadelphia University City while their rooms are treated.
Wharton sophomore Matt Mahoney, who lives on the fifth floor opposite the room where the flooding started, said he observed brown-colored water and steam seeping into his room soon after it began.
“I opened my door and there was water all over our floor. So we had to barricade everything using towels,” Mahoney said. “Then there was smoke coming out of the room as well, and then the water started seeping through the walls.”
Mahoney said he believes that the flooding was caused by a broken radiator. The floor “looked like a sauna” due to the hot water and steam pouring out of the room where the flooding started, Engineering sophomore Kenji Kaproth said.
Lea-Kruger wrote that the flooding was caused by an open window in a resident’s bedroom on the fifth floor, causing the pipe to freeze.
Prior to Saturday's flooding, Harrison House administrators sent an email to residents on Feb. 1 warning of extremely cold weather from Feb. 3 to Feb. 5, reminding them to close and latch their windows. The email also said that Allied Universal security guards would walk the perimeter of the building as well as the building floors from 8 a.m. on Feb. 3 through 4 p.m. on Feb. 5 to look for open windows and evidence of flooding.
Suhani Bhatt, a College sophomore living on the fourth floor, saw the flooding when she returned to her room around 1:30 p.m. She said that the water in her room was high enough to get her feet wet.
“I came back to grab my backpack and then saw my floor was flooding. The water was seeping into my room... in some of the other rooms, it was astonishing,” Bhatt said to the DP. “I'm a little disappointed and a little confused about the situation going on.”
Students in Harrison have previously complained about maintenance issues and flooding.
The flood worked its way down to the lobby, where a ceiling tile came crashing down to the floor, and to the exterior entrance of the building, where water started flowing out of the light fixtures. The cold temperatures caused a sheet of ice to form on the ground outside the entrance.
Penn Police officers directed Harrison residents to the High Rise Field, where they remained for over half an hour in the cold weather. Some residents were sent to the lobby of Harnwell College House before residents were let back into the building around 2 p.m. Residents who live on the affected floors were told to use the stairs, while those living on other floors were allowed to use the elevators.
Repairs to be completed over the coming weeks include removal of the cove base or drywall when needed, fans to dry rooms, and restoration of walls and cove base after drying is complete, according to Lea-Kruger.
“I hope Penn fixes this and figures out accommodations because midterms are rolling up and I’d like to be in a stable room,” Bhatt said.