Eliot Piping Floods Suites

Harvard promises to reimburse students for damage to belongings

A Monday run-in with problematic plumbing swiftly flushed away all hope of an uncomplicated week for several Eliot House residents.

Three entryways—D, E, and F—along with parts of the basement, were flooded when a major backup in the pipes underneath the House caused water to come up through shower drains.

Caroline Silva ’08 said a liquid appearing to be clear water began rising from her drain at about 8 a.m., but “as [the liquid] kept coming out it got murky and brown colored.” She said that while it did not appear to be sewage, the liquid had a “contaminated” odor.

According to Silva, Eliot maintenance staff came to her suite at about 8:40 a.m. to tell her that they were busy in other rooms within the House, but that they would be in to begin cleanup in her suite soon. But she said they did not return until 11 a.m.

Silva said the flooding had stopped and completely receded by 10 a.m.—but not before reaching a depth of about one-inch in her bathroom and overflowing into the suite’s common room.

When the maintenance staff returned, they began disposing of items that had come in contact with the water.

“Anything that would touch your skin—shampoos, towels, mats—they were thrown out,” she said.

The flood drove fellow Eliot resident Flavio S. Campos ’08 from his room to Dunster House, where he has been temporarily moved.

Campos said he was not present when the flooding began, but that he received a phone call from his roommate informing him of the problem.

“When I arrived the people from Harvard had already cleaned it, dried it, and put everything that was on the floor in trash bags,” said Campos. “I lost a lot of stuff.” He placed his personal damages at roughly $3,000.

Campos said he believes Harvard has “been managing [the flood] pretty well,” and that assurances have been given from both the Eliot House superintendent and Harvard insurance officials that his losses will be covered.

“They told me they’re going to reimburse everything—but we’ll see,” said Campos.

Zachary M. Gingo ’98, associate director of residential operations, said the backup appeared to occur in a “main drain” connecting the three entryways—causing the flooding in the first-floor student suites and the basements below them.

The cost of the damage incurred as a result of the flooding has not yet been assessed. “[The assessment process] is underway, but we don’t have any good sense of it as of yet,” Gingo said.

Gingo said he did not yet know what would happen in regard to students seeking reimbursement for their losses.

According to Gingo, a total of four students across two suites were displaced by the flooding, but would be able to return to Eliot House soon.

“The water’s all gone, the contractors have been in doing the sanitizing, and the rooms should be ready for occupancy shortly,” he said.

—Staff writer Nicholas A. Ciani can be reached at