Burst pipe floods classroom

Meredith Gallagher

On the first day of the new semester, most teachers were just worried about getting the names of their new students right, but Sister Jeanne Marie Vanderlinde was busy saving anything she could find that wasn’t already drenched with water. She was greeted Tuesday morning with three inches of standing water in the back of her room.

Sister Jeanne, a junior high religion teacher and the only teacher for the three blocks of AP U.S. History, was shocked to find the back half of her room almost completely flooded. “As soon as I walked in the room, I knew,” she said. “I saw puddles everywhere, and the carpet was stained black almost up to the front of the room.”

The water had come from a pipe that runs through a closet in the back of the room. Before the renovations to the building in the early 2000s, the pipe had been used to drain water from the roof and water the grass that used to grow in the courtyard. The pipe doesn’t normally cause any problems, but the extreme cold coupled with a sudden warm-up caused the pipe to expand and break. “The pipe probably broke on Friday or Saturday so it was leaking the entire weekend,” Sister Jeanne said.

The water soaked into the carpet all the way up to the front of the room, destroyed most things in the closet, and everything on the floor, including Sister Jeanne’s filing system. Luckily, Sister Jeanne had saved back-up copies or most of her worksheets and documents to her lap top. “Thank goodness for computers,” she said.

In Sister Jeanne’s 23 years of teaching, the pipe has broken a few times before. “There have been a couple other times where the closet flooded but never to this extent,” she said.

But thanks to the previous experiences, Sister Jeanne was able to salvage some of her projects, “I store stuff in garbage bags so they won’t get wet,” she said.

However, the water did do some damage to Sister Jeanne’s room. “I had to get rid of about 20 posters, and I lost some old books and a file of newspapers that I had collected over the years,” said Sister Jeanne. Luckily, the carpet wasn’t ruined and there was no serious financial damage.

“I expected to be out of [my room] for at least three days,” said Sister Jeanne. But with the help of the entire janitorial staff, a professional cleaning crew, and six fans, Sister Jeanne was back in her room and ready to teach classes the following day.

“On the one hand, it’s sad,” said Sister Jeanne of the nostalgic losses due to the water damage. “On the other hand it helped me clean out the closet.”