Cabot Dining Hall Shut Down By Flooding

Leaky pipes spill dirty water into eating area

The Cabot House dining hall was closed for dinner Saturday night after the house's drainage system sprung several leaks.

The leaks, which occurred in the dishwashing and serving rooms, flooded the dining hall with up to two inches of dirty water, witness said.

The dining hall reopened for Sunday brunch, but only after hectic efforts by the dining hall staff and workers from Harvard Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) to clean the spill.

Robert Bracey, a Cambridge city health inspector, said that under city law the Health Department had to be notified of any such leak immediately--but wasn't.

John Cortese, Cabot dining hall's supervisor, disagreed.


"This was only water," he said. "When there was a [sewage] spill last year we notified the commission immediately."

Bracey wouldn't comment further on the matter except to say that the health department would inspect the dining hall today.

Anabella Pappas, a Cabot dining hall staff member, said a local plumbing firm, the Drain Doctors, was called to fix the drainage system.

"There was dirty water all the way down the dining hall and the hallway," Pappas said. "Someone actually had to crawl into the pipe and reconnect it."

Cabot staff members said the leak is believed to have started in the dishwashing room, just off the serving area.

George Condoe, also a staff member at the Cabot dining hall, said he believes the problem started with the New England Clambake last Tuesday night.

Condoe said the lobster shells clogged the pipes in the dishroom and serving room, which then burst.

The situation worsened because the drainage pumps, which are supposed to kick in in the event of any spill, failed to start. According to Pappas, the "water pumps were disconnected and the warning light failed to turn on."

Sylviana Silva, who was serving lunch on Saturday when the pipes burst, said the leak started at five minutes to two on Saturday and that "by two o'clock we had to close the [serving area] door" because of the water.

"There was only about an inch and a half ofwater, but when it spread it was ugly," saidMichael MacGilliviay, a Cabot dining hall stafferinvolved in the cleanup.

The cleaning operation started as soon as theleak was brought under control. "[FMO] did a greatjob," said Micheline Codeiro, a dining hall staffmember.

On Saturday night the dining hall staff firstdrained the dirty sewage water. MacGilliviay then"soaked the place with clean water and soap."Coming in early yesterday, MacGillivay once againsoaked the serving area with soap and water.Another staff member, Maria Silva, then scrubbedthe entire area to ensure it was clean by the timestudents turned up for brunch.

Several students downplayed the inconveniencecaused by the flooding. "It wasn't such a bigdeal. I just went over to [Pforzheimer House] toeat [dinner]" said Katrina R. Tangen '01, a Cabotresident.

Another Cabot resident, John Cho '99, agreed."It smelled pretty fishy [at Sunday brunch], but Ican't forsake my dining hall--it's Cabot."

According to the dining hall staff, somestudents actually found the flooding amusing.

"The students thought it was quite funny[until] they found out that it was sewage [fromthe drainage pipes]," Pappas said