Shoppers entering the Gap, the Coop and the Tannery late yesterday morning met an unexpected welcome in the form of a sheet of water pouring down from the ceiling.
A damaged pipe in the air conditioning system of an adjoining office area had begun to leak, producing an inundation that lasted in some places for more than three hours.
Gary Anctil, a Gap employee who was present when the flood began, said the occupants of the floor above were fixing their air conditioning system when a pipe burst. John Ciancio, the Coop's assistant operations manager, said that while a rubber hose came off the air conditioning unit, he was not sure whether anyone had been working on the appliance.
Anctil said the leak continued for approximately three hours. Large pails were set out under the leak, which covered an area that Anctil estimated at between 30 to 40 feet. An off-duty fire fighter who happened to pass by alerted the Cambridge fire department to the situation.
Ciancio said that workers found it difficult to disable the pump on the roof. Even after the source of the leak was stopped, he said, dripping continued over the women's accessory department for much of the rest of the day.
Representatives from the fire department came to the Coop, as did the city electrical inspector, Ciancio said.
Both stores suffered material damage in the flood. At the Coop, sections of the ceiling tile were destroyed, and areas of carpeting will need to be cleaned. Ciancio said he hopes the carpeting will not have to be replaced.
Coop President James A. Argeros said that no merchandise had been lost in the women's accessory department. The counter was promptly covered, and the flooded part of the store was blocked off for the rest of the day, from approximately 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Cianco said.
Argeros said that because the store was shut for such a long time, it definitely lost some business. Anctil said the Gap suffered only minimal losses in merchandise, since everything was quickly moved away.
"It was quick," Ancil said. "We had to work a lot harder to get back on our feet. We don't like being closed."
Despite the minimal financial losses for both the Coop and the Gap, the flood has had some other negative consequences, at least for now. Because the air conditioning is broken, Anctil noted, "It's hot as hell."
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