Feb 232006
Authors: James Baetke

It was early Saturday morning when Brent Facchinello woke up to the hissing of a broken water pipe soaking his sneakers, clothes and computer.

"I woke up and heard a lot of pressure like the heater was going nuts," said Facchinello, a freshman business administration major.

The freezing temperatures last weekend dipped below zero and caused a pipe in Summit Hall to bust behind Facchinello's closet. CSU has not yet decided if they will cover any or all of the damage to Facchinello's property, along with 15 other students belonging to nine rooms who were displaced from the third, second and first floors.

"Water was just pouring out of my closet," Facchinello said. "Everything was soaked."

At about 7:10 a.m., after Facchinello had noticed the leaking pipe, the fire alarm alerted the hall to evacuate, sending Facchinello outside with the fate of his belongings and room in limbo.

The pipe was part of the fire suppression sprinkler system and once it blew sent out a text message to all applicable housing staff.

"I just went over to my car because I didn't have my shoes," he said. "I had snowboarding boots in my car so I just put them on."

Tonie Miyamoto, communications coordinator for CSU Housing and Dining Services, said dozens of housing and dining services staff members immediately reported to the scene. Summit Hall residents were evacuated to other halls to stay warm while the CSU Police Department and the Poudre Fire Authority assessed the scene.

"Any time you have extreme temperatures, pipes will freeze, which we saw over much of the state," Miyamoto said.

Having renter's insurance or being covered with a parent's homeowner's policy is strongly encouraged in the CSU housing contract and handbook.

"The university did a pretty good job getting me a new room, but they are going a little slower getting through their insurance," Facchinello said.

Insurance adjustors are in the process of looking at the exact cause of the burst. It is still possible poor construction or inadequate insulation led to the leak, but housing faculty said they have to wait and see what the insurance holder, FM Global, decides.

"There will be several different sets of eyes looking at the damage," said Mary Ellen Sinnwell, director of residence life.

Sinnwell said students are "encouraged" to have renter's insurance unless they are already covered with their parents' policy.

Brad Williams, Summit Hall residence director, was on the scene helping students clean out of damaged rooms.

"Some students and their parents were shocked and assumed everything would be paid for," Williams said, but admitted, "students are taking a risk if they don't have renter's insurance."

"I was very pleased with this united response. It was cleaned up early in the day," Sinnwell said.

Facchinello said he had about 10 residence assistants helping him sort through soaked clothes, shoes, over-the-counter medicine and food. He moved that day to another room in Summit and will continue to use his water-damaged textbooks for the rest of the semester.

The biggest expense resulting from the pipe burst was Facchinello's computer.

"My computer turns on, but it kind of wigs out," he said.

The area in Summit Hall where the pipe busted spilled on the third floor corner where two wings meet. Just above the corner area is a clearing where a roof exists, not a ceiling for a fourth floor

"We did not have quite as much insulation there," Miyamoto said, referring to the absence of a fourth floor ceiling, which would further provide more insulation.

Brad Bohlander, CSU spokesman, said the university was prompt to assist the immediate needs of displaced students even though they are not required to help.

"The question about insulation is being looked at," Bohlander said.

Any students without insurance and who cannot find financial assistance to replace damaged or lost items can file a claim with university risk management, he said.

The damaged rooms are currently being dried and tested for levels of mold and mildew. It is unclear when the rooms will be habitable.

James Baetke can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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