Around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday morning, extreme temperatures froze a sprinkler pipe junction in Chaffee Hall, which then burst and flooded several rooms on the eighth floor.
While the eighth floor carried the brunt of the damage, the water damaged ceilings and floors of the sixth and seventh floors were also affected. Lighter water damage spanned as far down as the first floor.
Facilities Director Jerry Sidio said that there was damage to ceiling tiles and a small amount of carpet and rugs in the area, and added that the damage was contained to the center of the high rise.
Sidio said personal property was harmed the most by the flooding. Computers, copiers, printers and keyboards were soaked or had ceiling tiles fall on them, he said. Many upholstered chairs were saturated, and there could be some bookcases and desks that delaminated from all the water.
Between three and five faculty members who had the worst impacted rooms have been moved temporarily, and the rest will work through the cleanup process and go back to their work areas on Monday, he said.
The eighth floor is home to the offices for the URI School of Education. Office Staff Member Marsha Mott came into her office to find the carpet covered in two inches of water yesterday morning. Despite the destruction in the office, Mott said that “all classes are running as scheduled.”
School of Education Director David Byrd said that the water damage has flooded all the department’s technology, making things difficult. The department has moved into a conference room on the sixth floor as their center of command.
The department is waiting patiently for the timeline as to when the building should be fixed. Byrd is “hoping for an early spring.”
URI Facilities has not fully assessed the cost of the damage, but they have hired outside contractors to help clean up the mess. Sidio said it depends on how long the university needs the contractors since they are paid hourly for labor and materials.
Chaffee was not the only building affected by bursting pipelines on campus, as there were similar issues in Bliss and Swan Halls, the Center for Biotech and Life Sciences and in the Coastal Institute building over the past week.
Sidio said that the sprinkler line that ruptured in Swan Hall was on the building’s exterior. The damage was negligible, as the water was outside the building. In order to get to the sprinkler line, workers had to cut a hole in the ceiling on the inside of the building to access to the line.
“Our cleanup crews are very active in all buildings,” Sidio said. “They are working hard to keep [campus buildings] clean throughout the storm, keeping us very active. Workers are responding in a positive manner to provide a positive environment for students.”