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Flood hits lasers, other areas

The deluge of 1996--which flooded the Kenmore MBTA Station with 20 feet of water and disabled the Green Line--brought water into nearly every basement on the MIT campus. However, "compared to the rest of the world, we were in pretty good shape," said Director of Physical Plant Victoria Sirianni after a weekend which saw every MIT plumber, heat/vent mechanic and electrician called in to handle emergencies.

The worst problems were in Building 2, where a small flood and steam left the equipment and walls of a basement laser lab "as wet as a rain forest," and Building 48, where a flood in the steam manhole caused steam to enter the building, peel paint and melt the seals of the elevator's hydraulic system. The resulting four-inch flood of water and hydraulic oil required cleanup by an environmental waste firm, said Joseph Gifun, manager for building maintenance.

East Campus also had extensive flooding, as did the swimming pool's mechanical room, which forced closure of the pool for a few hours.

The flooding at MIT caused no injury to people or animals. However, damage and cleanup will cost over $1 million, some of which will be covered by insurance, Mr. Gifun said.

The damage in the Parsons Laboratory, Building 48, included a computer room, storage room, and two labs with lasers and other expensive equipment, a facilities manager said. The cleanup will take about a week, after which it will be determined how much equipment is salvageable.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 23, 1996.

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