Students on campus for the winter session were not the only ones struggling with the frigid temperatures that gripped much of the Northeast this season.
At 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9, a five-foot section of standpipe in a third-floor stairwell in the Health Sciences Center froze over completely and split along its seam.
This triggered the pipe’s booster pumps to pump water into the space at approximately 2000 gallons per minute.
“We found out immediately, within minutes of the rupture, and we asked people in the affected areas to leave for their own safety. Most of them had, and some were trying to cover up equipment,” Associate Dean for Scientific Operations and Research Facilities Glen Itzkowitz explained by phone.
Itzkowitz looks after the HSC physical plant in conjunction with teams from HSC and Stony Brook Hospital operations.
While the pumps were running, an estimated 45,000 gallons of water flowed into the building, starting on the third floor in the Health Sciences
Library and continuing down into the second and first floors of the tower.
The water eventually reached the mechanical basement level.
Itzkowitz recounted his shock at the magnitude of the event: “I’ve never seen a flood this bad here before, and I’ve been here a long time—20 years. But that was because of the system that was affected.
“It was a standpipe system, so it’s a very big pipe with a very big pump at the end of it. We’ve had damage from other leaks, but we’ve never had a stand pipe leak like this,” he continued.
The majority of the damage took place on the second floor, including parts of the Department of Ophthalmology, Student Services, the School of Nursing, multidisciplinary laboratories, the medical students’ lounge, the credit union, Matthew’s Bookstore, medical simulation laboratories and several classrooms.