Flooding Emergency In Loyola Hall

Nathan Howard ’25

News Editor

Over the past weekend, freezing temperatures broke records throughout New England, including Worcester, where temperatures of 10 degrees below zero broke the previous record of minus 7 degrees for early February in 1931. In addition to these temperatures, high winds throughout campus made the weather dangerously extreme, with wind chills nearing 40 degrees below zero and wind gusts over 45mph. In anticipation of this cold weather, the College’s Office of Residence Life and Housing sent an email to all student residents on campus informing them to properly prepare for the dangerously cold temperatures by remaining indoors as much as possible to avoid health-related issues and closing all dorm windows to avoid any building-related damage, specifically stating that “It does not take long in those types of extreme low temperatures to freeze pipes near an open window. Even heating pipes can freeze that are close to an open window in-between heating cycles. Please ensure that your windows are closed for tomorrow and this weekend.”

As anticipated, the freezing temperatures and high winds led to numerous building-related damage, with Edwin Coolbaugh, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life and Housing, specifically stating that there were “a number of pipe issues in buildings on the campus following the weekend weather.” The worst of the pipe-related issues occurred in Loyola Hall, which houses more than 300 upperclassmen, Health Services and a fitness studio. According to Dean Coolbaugh, the powerful wind gusts and extreme cold led to a sprinkler pipe to burst in the ceiling of the Loyola Ballroom, which is located on the first floor of the building. From the students that I spoke with in Loyola, they were unsure of how exactly this occurred as everyone they know followed Residence Life and Housing protocol to securely close all windows for the weekend. Dean Coolbaugh explained that the root cause of this unfortunate incident was that “the building was cooling faster than it could heat up due to the weather and high winds, which ultimately caused one of the sprinkler heads to break.” This then caused the Loyola Ballroom to flood with water late Sunday morning. Because the Loyola Ballroom is located on the first floor of the building, the water seeped through the carpeted floor and proceeded to flood the Loyola Fitness Center and three dorm rooms in the building’s basement. Thankfully, the Loyola laundry room, which is also located on the basement floor was not affected by the flood damage. Because of this, the Loyola Fitness Center is currently closed and will remain closed until further notice, which frustrated some of the students that I spoke with as they are now forced to travel to the opposite side of campus for any fitness purposes. Additionally, the students who resided in the three rooms affected by the flood damage were forced to relocate to other residential buildings on campus, with the help of the Office of Residence Life and Housing as well as other students living in Loyola. 

Dean Coolbaugh explained that the College has addressed the issue swiftly and all building repairs should be completed within two weeks. He noted that if this were to have occurred in most other buildings on campus, the damage would have been less severe and it would have been likely fixed in a timelier manner as most other buildings on campus have concrete walls, whereas Loyola’s walls are composed of drywall, which absorbed much of the flooding water. As for the students who were forced to relocate due to the damage, Dean Coolbaugh explained that they have been moved to both Carlin and Williams Residence Halls and stated that “once the damage has been repaired, they will have the option to return to their Loyola rooms, remain in their new location, or possibly other alternatives as well.” While this unfortunate event was shocking to the campus’s students and faculty, the College has and will continue to take measures to address the needs of those affected by this incident.

Featured image courtesy of z plumbers

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