While Boston declared a cold emergency and three public school districts canceled classes ahead of an Arctic outbreak on Feb. 3, many Wellesley students could still be found bundled up for their treks to class. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Feb. 3 reached a record low of negative eight degrees Fahrenheit.
In an email, Helen Wang, associate dean of residential life and community development, announced that the Clapp, Music and Art Libraries would close at 4:30 p.m. until weather conditions improved. The Senate Bus for Friday evening was canceled and given a later start time than usual hours. She also mentioned that some dining hall stations may be closed but that Wellesley Fresh would try to maintain full service.
Measures to help prevent burst pipes were included in the email, which were not entirely successful. On Feb. 4, the fire alarms in Tower and Claflin residence halls’ went off at around 10:15 a.m. due to a burst pipe. Some Claflin residents were directed to stay in Lake House, to avoid the cold, until cleared to return. In an email to The News, John Brown, the operations manager for facilities management, said that the pipe was responsible for routing water through the sprinkler system in the Claflin landing dock, causing flooding to both the landing dock itself and the basement-level laundry room. Residents were permitted to reenter the buildings at approximately 10:30 a.m.
An additional email by the Office of Residential Life and Housing was sent regarding this burst pipe, informing students of the pipe, that there were crews on-scene for repair and that there was no reported damage to student rooms. Students were advised to prepare for a burst pipe by keeping near winter gear to quickly change into before evacuation and to keep OneCards and room keys on hand to minimize lockouts. The email also emphasized measures to take to reduce the risk of another burst, such as ensuring all windows are closed.
Anna Ehrlich, community director for Claflin Hall, said in an email correspondence, “Although we can all do our best to keep windows closed and keep the heat on during especially frigid days, it’s important to remember that things like the burst pipe are unpredictable and sometimes happen. Our facilities and custodial teams collaborated with first responders and other community partners to locate the source and clean up as efficiently as possible.”