Hurricane Guerin: the storm that almost was


Mira Berenbaum and Jared Hasen-Klein

Editor-in-Chief and Webmaster

At 3:47 PM on Sunday October 1, the typical Sunday afternoon Robotics practice was interrupted by an unexpected flow of water in the third building of the Upper School campus. Marcus Bernstein ‘18, captain of the Robotics team, explained they “were cleaning up and noticed a liquid seeping out of the pipes and into the back machining room of Guerin. After taking a few seconds to understand what was going on, I immediately went down to the classrooms below to tell students in a Cyber Patriots club meeting to get out. The fire alarm went off and the pipe continued to leak, eventually flooding half of Guerin by the time all students on campus were upstairs and safe. We called Campus Safety and 911, and after a while the ceiling tiles of the rooms below began to bend and leak dirty water. By that time, all students were off campus and safe.

According to Director of Operations and Campus Safety Mr. Nathan Humphreys, the leak was contained within 30 minutes. There was an immediate response by both the administration and first responders who helped at the scene. At 7:57 PM, Humphreys gave the “all clear” that school was safe to continue as usual on Monday, October 2.

The school released five updates throughout the day on Sunday, October 1. The initial notice came at 4:45 PM and said “Please note that we have experienced a burst water pipe in Building 3 on the Upper School campus. We are currently evaluating the situation. Updates will be posted [on the emergency update site] as they are available.” At 5:10 PM a new notification came in saying, “We are still assessing the situation. Additional information will be shared when available.” At 5:38 PM students and parents were notified that the leak had been contained and at 6:00 PM everyone was told to check back at 8:00 PM to see how this would affect the schedule for Monday. The final update came at 8:00 PM, stating, “Building 3 will be operational for tomorrow, Monday, October 2. School will be open as usual.”

“We wanted to make sure that we were able to have school open and continue as usual,” Head of School Mr. Gary Weisserman commented, explaining that clean up crews were here until 6:30 AM. “We were very lucky; had it been 15 minutes later we might not have had a network or a library.”

The cause rooted from an air compressor that overheated in its closet despite an exhaust fan intended to prevent something like this from happening. The built-in sprinklers then released water in the room, causing the flooding. The immediate cause for concern stemmed from the fact that water sitting in sprinkler systems for prolonged periods of time turns murky.

Robotics Manager Stephan Shapiro was on campus at the time and witnessed Weisserman’s immediate response. He commented, “thanks to swift work by Nathan Humphreys, Tanner Ragland, and others, damage was kept to a minimum, and cleanup [was] completed in time for school on Monday.”