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Workers began repairs to Connecticut Hall Thursday after flooding on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day damaged the building, which is the oldest in New Haven.

The flooding, which was caused by a leaking radiator, damaged a historic faculty meeting room and forced the basement computer cluster to close, although most of the building will remain open. Connecticut Hall is the latest casualty in a series of flooding incidents caused by mechanical failure in the last two weeks.

Director of Facilities Operations Eric Uscinski said the repairs will likely be finished within the next week and a half, but workers have yet to determine the full extent of the damage. The flooding is especially worrisome due to the value of the building, he said, which is more than 250 years old.

“It’s an historic building,” Uscinski said. “Any time we have flooding it’s serious, and we don’t know what the cost is yet, but we have contractors working on it.”

The basement computer cluster was hardest hit by the flooding and will remain closed while it is dried and repaired, said Philosophy Department chair Michael Della Rocca, whose office is in Connecticut Hall. Yale officials said they were not aware of any damage to the computers themselves.

Workers removed carpeting on several floors yesterday and will soon begin hardwood in the large second-floor Faculty Room, which is used for college-wide faculty meetings. The room housed six portraits of former deans, two of which were damaged and have been sent to the University Art Gallery for repairs. The four unharmed paintings have been moved out of the building for safekeeping.

Faculty members working in Connecticut Hall said they were concerned about the damage to the paintings, which are a valuable part of Yale’s history.

“This building is really important,” philosophy professor Sun-Joo Shin said. “I think this is a big deal.”

Della Rocca said a portrait of former Dean William Clyde DeVane, who served from 1938 to 1963, suffered the most severe damage.

Members of the Philosophy Department, which is housed in Connecticut Hall, said the repairs to the building are inconvenient but have not seriously impaired their work. Only one professor has temporarily lost his office.

The flooding occurred the same day as leaks in Jonathan Edwards College and the Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center. Uscinski said the Connecticut Hall damage was likely caused by old age, and could be related to a hot water outage that occurred when Yale’s physical plant shut down Sunday.

The flooding incidents this week follow a steam pipe burst on Jan. 7 that damaged facilities and thousands of books at Sterling Memorial Library. Uscinski said the recent string of leaks has caught maintenance officials by surprise, but is not necessarily more severe than in past years.

“We had a pretty quiet fall with the weather being as good as it has been, and we didn’t think anything major was going to happen,” he said. “I’m hoping this is the worst of it.”

Though some of the incidents are still under investigation, Uscinski said damage to Yale facilities is largely inevitable given the age and size of the University’s systems.

“You try to prevent it with maintenance, but things do fatigue over time,” he said. “A lot of it isn’t obvious to the eye.”

Shin said that although some flooding incidents may be unavoidable, officials should take all possible steps to minimize future occurrences.

Students who normally use the school computers in Connecticut Hall can use the Phelps Hall cluster until repairs are complete.

The computer cluster in Connecticut Hall, above, was shut down due to damage from flooding. The water also ruined rugs and caused walls to crack.
Carolyn Tobkin
The computer cluster in Connecticut Hall, above, was shut down due to damage from flooding. The water also ruined rugs and caused walls to crack.

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