Burst water pipe floods Davenport dorms

The only possessions Jacqueline Gosnell ’08 has to start the new semester were in the suitcases she brought back from home.

Hot-water pipes burst in Davenport College’s K and E entryways last week, damaging three suites and forcing Gosnell and eight other students to relocate to different dorms for up to two months. The cause of the plumbing failures is still unknown, Davenport Master Richard Schottenfeld said.

Two pipes burst in Davenport  entryways K and E after the Yale Power Plant experienced an explosion over Winter Break.  More than 20 students had to be relocated to suites across campus.
Han Xu
Two pipes burst in Davenport entryways K and E after the Yale Power Plant experienced an explosion over Winter Break. More than 20 students had to be relocated to suites across campus.

The affected students returned from their breaks to find their rooms in shambles, they said.

“It really looks like a bomb exploded in there,” Claire Knodell ’09, who lived in E21, said of her suite’s common room.

Caitlin Collins ’10, who lived in suite K11, described discoloration on the ceilings and walls of her room and shards of plaster littered on the bare ground, where the floorboards have been torn up.

Custodial services discovered the flooding on a routine patrol of the dorms last week and immediately sent damaged bedding and clothes to be professionally dry-cleaned, Schottenfeld said. Some furniture and electronics were also damaged or ruined, he said.

“It’s the equivalent of it raining into your suite,” Schottenfeld said of the water damage. “It was pretty ugly initial cleanup.”

After attempting to dry out and salvage damaged property, custodians took an inventory of the permanently ruined items.

“We got like five pages of stuff that’s ruined,” including a TV, surround-sound speakers, a DVD player, a refrigerator and a collage of photographs, said Emilia Crespo ’09, who also lived in E21.

Schottenfeld called or e-mailed the suites’ inhabitants last Tuesday to inform them of the problem.

Custodians have set up large fans in the rooms to expedite the evaporation and dissipate the odor.

Some of the rooms will require “some terribly expensive repairs,” such as replacing the floors or ceilings, Schottenfeld said. While crews remodel the sites, the college has arranged new housing for the students, he said.

The five sophomores from suite K11 will live in McClellan Hall for four to five weeks while their suite is repaired, they said.

The bedrooms in E21 were undamaged, but the suite’s inhabitants will have to move out for eight weeks because of construction in their common room. Two of the students are abroad for the semester. Knodell and Crespo will live in a spare double in Pierson, and their fifth suitemate will live in a vacant single in Davenport.

“The fact that it’s going to be eight weeks sucks,” Knodell said while unpacking boxes in her new room. “That’s half the semester.”

Gosnell’s bedroom in E31 was the source of the pipe burst, and she still has not seen her belongings, including her cello. Gosnell has been moved to a spare single on Davenport’s sixth floor, ordinarily graduate housing.

“All my stuff is gone,” she said. “I literally have nothing. I have to borrow sheets and towels and a backpack for tomorrow.”

Some students are covered by dorm insurance or under their parents’ homeowners insurance policies, Schottenfeld said. While personal insurance is the “first resort,” he said Yale’s risk-management office will determine additional reimbursement as deemed necessary.

“Because it’s a Yale building and Yale pipes that burst, Yale will step in,” Schottenfeld said. “That seems appropriate.”

Schottenfeld said the students are fortunate that on-campus housing is available, since in the past the housing crunch has forced Yale to find students off-campus housing if their rooms became uninhabitable.

Most suites’ members will not be separated from one another, Schottenfeld added.

“At least we’re together. We’re happy about that,” Knodell said.

A collegewide renovation of Davenport was finished in 2005. The Office of Facilities did not return calls seeking comment.

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