When Chelsea Dunlap ’14 glanced at her phone Monday night to see seven frantic texts with references to “firemen” and “flooding,” she said she thought her roommate was kidding. Then she saw the fire marshal outside her door and the water seeping through the ceiling into her suite.
Members of the fire department on the scene informed students that the flood was caused by a fourth-floor student who accidentally set off the sprinklers while trying to get rid of a bug, Dunlap said. Less than 24 hours after the incident, a second flood began Tuesday when a fire alarm was tripped in the basement during some “plumbing work,” according to an email from Branford Master Elizabeth Bradley. Though the Undergraduate Regulations hold students responsible for any damage that occurs in their suite, Dunlap said she does not expect that she and her suitemates will have to pay for the water damage, and Dunlap’s suitemate Emily Miller ’14 said she does not know whether Yale will help pay for cleaning supplies or items that have been damaged, like her printer and books.
“Yale doesn’t insure anyone’s property,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an email to the News. “[Every] resident in Yale College is encouraged to take independent insurance, from masters and deans to students.”
Bradley deferred comment to Branford Building Supervisor Ian Hobbs, who did not respond to requests for comment.
According to the Undergraduate Regulations, Yale is not responsible for damage to any personal belongings, “regardless of the cause,” and students are held responsible for any damage to their rooms, even if they are not present when the damage occurs. The University also retains the right to charge a $100 fine, as well as cleanup and repair costs, to a person responsible for “unnecessary discharge of a sprinkler.”
But these rules are not always enforced. A female student who caused a flood in Ezra Stiles College told the News in 2009 that she was not held responsible for the damage, “since the flooding was accidental.” She also said that Yale had paid to house students temporarily in the Courtyard Marriott, and that Ezra Stiles Master Stephen Pitti had offered to pay for students to dry clean their wet clothes.
As of Wednesday, Emily Miller and Dunlap, along with their suitemate Aly Moore ’14, were staying with friends because their suite was too “smelly” for sleeping, Dunlap said. Though Dunlap said firefighters and Yale facilities staff have been “very nice” about making sure nothing is unsafe, Emily Miller said she and her suitemates are left with the task to “scrub everything and wash the rusty water residue left on our things.”
“My desk was directly under one of the places in the ceiling that water was coming through,” she said. “I am very grateful that my computer was not on my desk.”
The Branford basement, whose flood was unrelated to first incident, has since been cleaned and reopened for students. While the water was being cleared away, Bradley asked students in an email with the subject line, “Surf’s up in Branford,” to stay away from the basement area between entryway M and N due to “electrical dangers and flooding.”
Stormwater flooding hit Timothy Dwight College in fall 2010, leaving a shallow layer of water throughout the basement.