Burst pipe at IV forces students to evacuate


Marta Hill

International Village, or IV, was the site of a burst pipe Feb. 5 due to historic freezing temperatures in Boston. IV Residents had to evacuate the building for about two hours while maintenance was done to repair the pipe.

Katherine Mailly, news correspondent

Due to the below-zero weather of the weekend of Feb. 3 through 5, residents were forced to evacuate International Village, or IV, after a pipe burst, sending students that had been sleeping in their residence hall  into the cold outdoors on a Sunday morning without knowing when they would be able to return to their rooms.

Nathaniel Plesner, a second-year game art and animation combined major, said an alarm first sounded at approximately 9 a.m. Feb. 5, playing an automated message that drew students’ attention to a potential emergency.The message advised residents to evacuate if a second alarm started on their floor.

A second alarm went off around 30 to 40 minutes later, ordering all students to exit the building. This alarm, second-year psychology and human services combined major Olivia Walker said, was a live announcement. 

“Normally the automated voice goes off. But then this time, there was a person saying [to] evacuate the floor, so we all left,” Walker said. “You didn’t really know what to grab or anything.”

Plesner said that as he was leaving the building, he saw that one of the stairwells was slightly flooded, and his RA informed him that a pipe had burst.

Once gathered outside the building, Walker said students were instructed to step away from the building onto the grass, which was dissimilar to other incidents when students had to evacuate the building. Avery Hutchinson, a first-year behavioral neuroscience major, said many students had evacuated with only their pajamas on. However, Walker and Plesner said by the time students left the building, the temperature had increased from its very lowest since the days prior.

Students were advised to go to Ryder Hall, however some students opted for different locations to wait out the incident. Plesner said he chose to wait in Centennial Common with a couple other students while Walker went to Ryder Hall and then Curry Student Center. 

“We just waited, some friends and I, because we were all either half awake or we were going to start working on homework,” Plesner said. “Usually when it comes to emergencies at IV they don’t take very long, so no one had brought anything with them. I saw some people [had] brought their bags and stuff with them, but I expected it to be at most 30 minutes.”

Plesner said that around 11 a.m., his RA reported it was safe for students to return to the building. Since the event, all three students have reported there have been no further issues in the building, and that the event was largely regarded as a nuisance.

“It was really annoying, but it was just one of those things,” Hutchinson said. “It’s not really anyone’s fault. It’s just a pipe.”

International Village faced similar issues in January 2019, when a pipe burst at 5 a.m., forcing students to evacuate and then relocate to Renaissance Park.

The freezing weather, which initially caused the pipe to burst, formed as a result of disruptions in the polar vortex, which is a layer of high-speed wind circling the poles that usually keeps the cold air close to the poles. When the polar vortex is disrupted, upper areas of the atmosphere warm, which prompts the polar vortex to send blasts of cold polar air toward the equator.