Last Saturday morning around 11:30, any students eating in the cafeteria may have found themselves in dire need of an umbrella.
“All of a sudden, water started coming from the ceiling. My friends and I got up and moved to another table to continue eating while everybody else left. I was pissed that my breakfast got interrupted,” said Sophomore Juan Carlos. The Northlawn cafeteria experienced a main water line break, which flooded the floor and set off the fire alarms, notifying and summoning the fire department to EMU.
Due to the low temperatures last week, a water coil in the heating and cooling system froze. When the coil thawed, it split in more than twelve places. The sprinkler systems in the cafeteria are connected to the heating and cooling system. When the water started to run, the sprinklers detected it and activated. The activating of the sprinklers set off the fire alarm and notified the fire department, bringing trucks to EMU to help put out the non- existent fire.
The water to the cafeteria was shut off soon after the flooding started, and clean-up began as quickly as possible. The fire department stayed for a while after the break to help squeegee puddles of water to the nearest drains. First-Year Karina Guzman was not in the cafeteria during the leak, but was on her way when she saw the fire trucks arrive at EMU.
“Three fire trucks for one leak? That is crazy pants,” she said. EMU Physical Plant employees stayed for hours after the flood to help aide in the clean up. They brought in a contractor with a truck-mounted vacuum to ex- tract the water from the carpets.
Assistant Physical Plant Director Ed Lehman commented that the cafeteria dried up quickly. He explained that there was relatively little damage done.
“A few stained ceiling tiles will need to be replaced, but the biggest repair will be the water coil. The water coil is
not essential to the cooling and heating system, so we will probably not fix it until school is out,” said Lehman.
While the Physical Plant was cleaning up the cafeteria, the Pioneer kitchen staff was setting up food for students who did not have the opportunity to eat prior to the flooding. First- Year Kultuma Noorow was impressed by how well the crisis was managed.
“Accidents happen, but the mess was cleaned up quickly and I appreciated Ken Nafziger keeping us informed about the progress that Physical Plant was making as well as the arrangements that the caf made for us to eat.” While the cafeteria was cleaned up around 6:30 p.m., dinner was still served in the Den from 5 to 6 p.m. to allow extra time for everything to dry.
Lehman said that while he wished that the crisis had never happened he was impressed with the way that Physical Plant and Pioneer staff accommodated the students and cleaned up the caf. “It could have been much worse,” he said.