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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Flooding cleaned after second rain

Published: April 9, 2010
Section: Front Page

After last month’s torrential downpours, some Brandeis students looking forward to coming back to a much drier campus after spring break found their rooms flooded once more upon return. In nearly every quad, residence rooms and suites were damp or had water damage from rain nearly 10 days ago. The recent rain has led Facilities Services to evaluate several buildings to see what needs to be changed structurally.

Flooding was caused by a combination of two storms, one before and one during the break. Many have referred to the first storm as a “50-year storm,” the kind that happens only once in several decades. Custodial Supervisor Glenn Myers described it as much more widespread and windblown, saying the second was much calmer in comparison.

Vice President for Campus Operations Mark Collins said that the first storm revealed structural problems in some buildings, particularly the roof of 567 South Street. He said the university is working to schedule a replacement after the roof sustained rain and wind damage.

“[The storms have] been really illustrative of some of the work that has to get done,” Collins said. “This rain brought to the floor some of the stuff that we probably haven’t even seen, such as in the foundation walls.”

More than 200 students filed work orders after the first storm three weeks ago, which left Waltham with close to 10 inches of rain. The number of work orders so far has been drastically smaller after the second storm, which Collins said was partly due to preemptive measures taken by the Facilities staff, who checked several rooms that had been previously reported as flooding. In a few cases, they were able to stop flooding before students returned.

Because of the length and magnitude of the first storm, Massell Pond overflowed and other areas of campus were completely flooded. “The ground is saturated and the water just continues to come,” Collins said, explaining how standing water had nowhere to go but into building foundations that usually stay much drier, subsequently causing flooding in many basements in places like Massell Quad. The only way to fix this completely would be to excavate and seal the foundations, Collins said, but he stressed that this is a unique event and he remains optimistic that flooding of this scale won’t happen again any time soon.

Other buildings, and particularly Usen Castle, have become waterlogged because of masonry problems, not roofing, Collins said. Because of the heavy winds, rain hit walls directly, going between stones that are not caulked properly.

Michael Margolis ’12 and his Rosenthal East suitemates are only a few of the more than 200 students who submitted work orders during the first round of rain. “It’s flooded like three different times,” Margolis said. “It’s a pain to have to deal with a work order, but it’s better than your dorm smelling like mildew.”

According to Myers, cleaning a room that has water damage is a generally simple process, and costs around $85 per room, which is far less than the cost of renovating each building. Collins also pointed out that in some cases students could be reimbursed for damaged personal property.