News | Burst water main floods campus, damage “extensive”

Engineering students block McConnell

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A torrent of water emanating from a burst water main near the intersection of Pins and Dr.
Penfield flooded the downtown campus, along with large swaths of the downtown area, from
4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.

A 48-inch water main “gave way” while construction crews were conducting repairs on
century-old pipes, Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum said at a press conference on Monday
evening.

At McGill, several buildings, including Service Point and the James Administration building
were flooded and evacuated, or evacuated preemptively. All evening classes were cancelled,
although officials released a statement late Monday night announcing that classes – except
for those held in the Wong building – will resume Tuesday.

“We are trying to assess damage as best we can, but it will be extensive,” administration
officials told the McGill community in an emergency email sent while the flood was still
ongoing.

A concern for safety was first and foremost, according to administration officials. Security
services moved to cordon off areas where the flow of water was particularly strong, roughly
an hour after the video of a student being swept down McTavish toward Sherbrooke
appeared online.

Because flooding originated on Dr. Penfield and extended from Peel to University, students
and staff exiting campus had no choice but to wade through ankle- and knee-deep water.
With the flooding hiding spots already slick with ice, “our message has been please, please
be careful,” Director of Internal Relations Doug Sweet told The Daily.

In September 2011, a burst in the McTavish Reservoir flooded lower campus. At the time,
Service Point, Wilson Hall, and McLennan were all inundated. According to Sweet, however,
today’s flood was “worse, I don’t know how much worse, but definitely much worse… The fact
that it’s winter doesn’t help any.”

Engineering students build a dam

When a group of engineering students sitting in a McConnell Engineering building computer
lab noticed a torrent of water approaching the building, they immediately leapt into action.

“At crux of it, we’re all engineers. We like building dams,” U2 Mechanical Engineering student
Cyrille Goldstein said to The Daily.

Initially looking for shovels – and finding none – students instead grabbed salt bags,
composting bins, and garbage bins, and set to work on diverting the water away from
McConnell’s main entrance.

On Mechanical Engineering professor Amar Sabih’s advice, they filled garbage bags with
snow and piled them on top of each other.

Nearby students, staff, and faculty eventually joined the effort. McGill maintenance workers
noticed the students’ effort and offered their help, hauling plywood and shovels from other
parts of campus.

Activities Night, interrupted

On order from the Fire Prevention Office, SSMU executives began evacuating the Shatner
building at 5:30 p.m., according to VP Clubs & Services Allison Cooper.

SSMUfest, the winter semester Activities Night, was cancelled. According to Cooper, over
180 clubs had booked tables for the evening.

Although Activities Night has been rescheduled for Tuesday, most of the workshops and the
performances originally scheduled will likely not take place.

After multiple scans of the basement and sub-basement, SSMU executives told The Daily that
the Shatner building was not flooded.

— with files from Euan EK


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