Vivek Suri

Two fire water mains in Morse College burst early last week due to extreme cold, causing flooding that has forced 77 students returning from winter break to relocate — 60 to McClellan Hall on Old Campus, the rest to other housing spaces in Morse — while Yale repairs the water damage.

Head of Morse Catherine Panter-Brick told the News that students may be able to return to their regular rooms in Morse in two to three weeks if Yale Environmental Health and Safety deems the affected areas safe. Flooding affected the floors in four entryways, A through D, and damaged a total of 41 dorm rooms. After a frigid weekend during which temperatures in the Elm City dropped below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, Panter-Brick notified students Wednesday morning about the flooding and asked them to hold off on returning to campus if possible so that their rooms could be inspected. Yale Fire, Police and Facilities arrived at Morse after the flooding began and shut off the water. Afterwards, the clean-up began.

“Contractors worked through the night and the following day to clean all affected areas,” Panter-Brick said. “At this point, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities officers have detected moisture seepage into some of the walls.”

She added that the Head of College Office made its best effort on Friday to ensure that suitemates and roommates stay together in the temporary accommodations. And, she said, the college hired professional movers to help transport student belongings to the new rooms on Old Campus.

On Saturday evening, displaced students spoke with Morse officials about the relocation process. Panter-Brick told the News that the mood is upbeat and that her students report that their new rooms are nice and their belongings were transported well.

Regardless, emotions have run high for students who lost items to water damage and are waiting on a return to their dorms.

“People are definitely frustrated, especially considering they won’t reimburse us at all for damaged items,” Elliot Connors ’20 told the News. “But overall, they’ve been well organized relocating us, though it’s unclear when we’ll be able to return. People have lost thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff, which is a hard lesson to learn — don’t leave important belongings at school over break.”

Panter-Brick said Morse administration discussed the issue of lost property, but that the college is not liable for damage to student property. Students have the option of taking out insurance on their belongings, “which is something we always encourage them to do,” Panter-Brick explained.

She added, however, that Yale has offered to launder and return all wet clothing and that only items left on the floor were vulnerable to the water seeping into the suites.

Heidi Dong ’20 said the movers hired by Morse, the free laundering of any wet clothing and temporary new accommodations, which she said have been great so far, helped make “the transition as painless as possible” in spite of the inconvenience.

There are 449 students in Morse.

Britton O’Daly | britton.odaly@yale.edu