Student dorms flooded on five different occasions from Jan. 17 to Jan. 28 — causing widespread damage to residents' belongings and temporary displacement.
On Jan. 17, Housekeeping staff found that a Harrison College House fan coil pipe froze, causing flooding in 26 suites between the first and seventh floors. Soon after, the Quad flooded on four separate occasions – Jan. 24, Jan. 25, and twice on Jan. 28 — causing flooding in the Leidy, Franklin, Brooks, Speakman, and Butcher halls.
Penn Business Services Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the Harrison pipe froze due to an open window. Facilities staff turned off the water supply to prevent the leak from causing more damage — and BELFOR, a flood remediation company outside of the University, was called in to begin the drying and repair process.
Residential Services offered the 58 impacted students temporary housing in the Sheraton due to the need for ongoing repairs.
Lea-Kruger said that 32 of these students accepted this option and moved to the Sheraton. These students were asked to move out by Jan. 21 and transfer into Sansom Place West due to limited availability in the Sheraton.
They are expected to be able to move back into Harrison by the end of this week, though drying and repairing processes will continue.
College senior Dangela Fonseca, a resident of one of the impacted Harrison suites, described her situation as “stressful” — particularly given that she had to move during a University snow day shortly after winter break. She also praised the staff who aided her.
“While it was stressful to go through everything, I was able to get all my questions answered," Fonseca said. "No matter where I called, people got back to me quickly and offered any help they could.”
Fonseca recounted an instance when she returned to her room in Harrison to pick up some of her belongings. A security guard accompanied her to the suite and asked about her stay in Sansom Place West, helping her feel comfortable and safe.
“It was nice just to feel supported,” Fonseca said. “Although this is a difficult time for us, I feel better knowing that other people genuinely do care.”
The Quad also experienced flooding, causing many students to temporarily move into Sansom Place West.
Two of the floods affected the first floor of Butcher. The Jan. 24 flood was caused by a leak in a bathroom and caused four inches of flooding, and the Jan. 28 flood — which caused three inches of flooding — was caused by a leak from a sprinkler head, according to a Jan. 29 email from Residential Services to affected residents.
Most of the affected students are being asked to stay in Sansom Place West until Feb. 9 — a the earliest — while repairs are in progress.
College first-year, Butcher resident, and former DP sports reporter Maya Orenstein, however, told the DP that she and many other Quad residents impacted by the flooding are “not optimistic” and expect to live outside of their dorm indefinitely.
Orenstein said that herself and many other students living in the Quad were asked to move out of their dorms after the first flood. The second — which occurred after most students had already left their dorms — damaged remaining personal belongings.
Orenstein expressed dislike of her new living situation and alleged a lack of communication and support from the University.
“Most students, such as myself, aren’t even staying at Sansom. It’s not a great place to be, and it was dirty,” Orenstein said. “Most people I know are staying with friends and family, instead. The situation is not good. Lots of people’s things got ruined.”