Just days after a burst pipe led to a flood that damaged numerous residences on the top three floors of Copley Hall, some residents have begun to return to their rooms from temporary housing provided by the university.

At about 11:30 p.m. Monday, a pipe used for heating and cooling froze and burst in the attic of Copley, said Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing. Water traveled through the ceiling into the fifth floor and later the fourth and third floors of the building, soaking hallways and damaging some students’ possessions.

Nine students were moved to spare on-campus housing, Frank said. University maintenance employees have spent the past few days restoring the building, dehumidifying rooms, vacuuming floors and repairing damaged walls and ceilings.

A few of the students have since returned to their Copley rooms, but Frank said that there is no timetable for when all of the students will return. The university agreed to compensate students for any property damage that resulted from the flood, but students must report all damages to the Office of Risk Management.

Frank attributed the burst pipe to the frigid weather outside.

“[Burst pipes] are not too uncommon in severe cold,” she said. “It’s not something that happens regularly.”

Laurel Korb (COL ’09), a fourth-floor resident who was displaced after her room’s floor was soaked during the flood, returned to her dorm yesterday. Korb moved into a vacant single in the Southwest Quadrangle on Tuesday morning after sleeping in a friend’s residence Monday night.

Korb’s roommate Nora O’Malley (COL ’09), who also moved into a single in the Southwest Quad on Tuesday, said that she wished the university had been more accommodating.

“I understand the university can’t control the weather, and our [resident advisor] was fantastic and a great help, but no one offered to help us move our things on Tuesday,” she said. “I ended up having to miss both my classes on Tuesday while trying to get my housing situation organized.”

Korb said that she wished housing employees had been in closer contact with her during the transition process.

However, Pakto Wong (COL ’09), another fourth-floor resident who was displaced by the flood, said he was pleased with the work facilities personnel did in responding to the incident and cleaning his room.

“Considering the circumstances, they did a pretty good job,” Wong said.

Wong said he was doing homework and talking with his friends when he first heard a dripping sound Monday night. He then noticed water streaming down the walls and windows of his room.

“Water started dripping from everywhere,” he said. “One of my friends thought the ceiling was going to come down. It was like a waterfall, like a tap was on.”

Wong and his roommate managed to save their electronic equipment and books, piling as much as they could into suitcases.

O’Malley, whose printer was ruined, moved back into the room that she and Korb share yesterday. Wong said he expects to return to Copley in the next few days.

Korb said that other Copley residents were very helpful after the flood.

“They helped us take everything out of our room and let us store some stuff in their rooms. People we had never even met before were so willing to help,” she said.

When a pipe bursts or malfunctions, a university employee must go to the site and turn the valve off manually, Frank said. It took about 15 minutes for maintenance employees to shut off the pipe, but Frank said that the response would have been quicker if the pipe had not burst in the middle of the night, when fewer employees were working.

Despite the incident, Frank said that students in Copley and other residence halls should not be worried.

“There is nothing that is unsafe in these conditions,” she said. “[The flooding] is certainly an annoyance, an inconvenience.”

Since a similar incident occurred a few years ago in a residence hall, university officials have been checking every room at the beginning of winter break to make sure the windows are closed and the heating units are set properly, Frank said.

In an e-mail sent to Copley residents on Tuesday, Copley Hall Director Mary Ellen Wade advised students to take precautions in order to prevent another such incident.

“During this period of extreme cold weather, please keep your windows closed and your heat on,” she said. “While we could not anticipate last night’s problem, taking these protective measures should help us in the future.”

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