University still recovering from floods

This room, in the basement of the Yale College Dean’s Office, is one of the many places on campus still recovering from severe rain in August. Dozens of other buildings, including Bass Library and the Hall of Graduate Studies, are also still undergoing repairs.
This room, in the basement of the Yale College Dean’s Office, is one of the many places on campus still recovering from severe rain in August. Dozens of other buildings, including Bass Library and the Hall of Graduate Studies, are also still undergoing repairs. Photo by Victor Kang.

Nearly 50 buildings on campus are still recovering from damage sustained during the torrential downpours that struck New Haven in mid-August.

The rain, which fell at a rate of six inches per hour and left Cross Campus under a few inches of water, affected several residential college basements, Bass Library, the Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) and Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall (SSS), among other buildings. People working in the buildings at the time were transferred to temporary locations for the duration of the repairs, which have taken longer than expected but should all be completed within a month, said John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources.

Karen Peart, a spokeswoman for the University, said Yale has many systems in place to minimize damage from storms. Emergency pumps and hoses are kept in buildings particularly vulnerable to water damage, she said, and the University regularly checks to ensure the systems are in working order.

Meeske said he was told by Yale Facilities that the safeguards were overcome since it was “the storm of the century,” adding that repairs are taking longer than planned because more damage became visible after initial repairs.

“Our windows were completely submerged, and because of that water was leaking in,” Meeske said of the basement of the Yale College Dean’s Office, adding that the water damaged both the carpeting and portions of the wall.

Faculty with offices in SSS displaced by the flood initially moved to temporary offices in the same building, Meeske said. Once it became evident that repairs would take longer than originally anticipated, however, they were moved to other campus locations, he said.

Shiri Goren, senior lector in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department, whose office in the basement of HGS suffered severe water damage, said because of the floods, she currently has no office space, phone or designated place to meet students. Calling herself “homeless,” she added that some of her books were destroyed, and she now stores her belongings in a colleague’s office.

Meeske said the timing of the flood was particularly unfortunate, since the repairs overlap with the beginning of the school year.

Jeffrey Brenzel ’75, master of Timothy Dwight College, said that Timothy Dwight “took on a fair amount of water in [its] lower level,” though no lasting damage was done. He added that workers from ServiceMaster, a company contracted by the University that provides cleaning and maintenance services, arrived quickly at the college to repair the damage. Brenzel said backflow valves have been re-evaluated and pumping equipment has been installed to prevent future incidents, adding that Timothy Dwight is undergoing an evaluation to determine if further fail-safe devices should be installed.

But Paavan Gami ’15, who said his basement suite in Silliman College has some damaged paint and swollen floorboards, said those problems have not yet been fixed.

The last storm to flood the basement of Timothy Dwight, the lowest point on campus, occurred during the fall of 2010.

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