Burst pipe causes flooding, displaces tenants at Eastworks

  • An exterior view of Eastworks in Easthampton is shown Jan. 18, 2017.

  • Thom Long and Fran Derogatis of IdeaCo in Eastworks clean up from a flood caused by a pipe that broke Saturday afternoon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Thom Long, owner of IdeaCo in Eastworks, looks over the computers and equipment damaged by water Sunday after a flood caused by a burst pipe. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Thom Long and Fran Derogatis of IdeaCo in Eastworks clean up from a flood caused by a pipe that broke Saturday afternoon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Josef Arnould of Strength For Life gym in Eastworks, looks up at where the water came from after a flood caused by a pipe that broke Saturday afternoon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Carlos Menendez, an employee of Advanced Restoration Group of Easthampton, cleans up in Eastworks from a flood caused by a pipe that broke Saturday afternoon. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A picture from IdeaCo in Eastworks shows flooding that occurred on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, after a water main broke on the roof and flooded apartments and businesses on the floors below. —Submitted Photo Mac McDonald

Published: 2/4/2018 11:34:01 AM

EASTHAMPTON — A burst sprinkler pipe on the roof of the Eastworks building on Pleasant Street over the weekend caused flooding that has displaced more than a dozen business and residential tenants.

Will Bundy, owner of the converted factory building that houses arts, commercial and residential spaces, said he was out of state when the pipe broke.

“It’s been very disruptive to more than a dozen of our tenants and the community as a whole,” Bundy said, while riding on a train back to Massachusetts Sunday morning. “I really don’t know a whole lot more except that when I say devastating, that never does describe how bad it is when water runs rampant through a building.”

Bundy said he was notified late Saturday afternoon when the pipe burst because the Easthampton Fire Department responded.

“We have already got a cleanup company in the building,” Bundy said. “We are assessing what sort of accommodations to space we can make available to our businesses and we’re going to be spending the better part of the day reaching out to people and getting a sense of what everybody needs.”

On Facebook, Bundy said, he has seen discussion of how neighbors are helping neighbors.

“I’m just grateful for that help, and I know it has meant a lot to all the people who are dealing with this devastation,” he said. “We’re very focused on trying to get people situated in a way where they can conduct their lives and their businesses in an effective and comfortable way, and more importantly, we want to get them comfortably back in their spaces and through this very traumatic event.”

The Easthampton Fire Department arrived at Eastworks around 3 p.m. Saturday after an alarm was triggered. Fire Capt. Sean O’Leary said when firefighters arrived on scene — five in total — they were told immediately that there was water pouring in from the ceiling on the fourth floor.

“We could tell right away, just the pressure and water coming through, we probably had a burst pipe,” O’Leary said.

Firefighters made their way to the roof where they found a room that houses machinery and in there they found a pipe that had burst and was gushing water, O’Leary said. With the help of the building’s maintenance crew they were able to shut off the water. Crews then went room by room cutting off power to all affected rooms and trying their best to protect property inside the rooms, O’Leary said.

On Sunday morning, a sign on the door of Strength for Life Health and Fitness Center informed customers looking to work out that the gym was closed due to the water main break. Inside, gym owner Josef Arnould had already surveyed the damage and did his best to move exercise equipment away from the walls. He said water had reached the first-floor business around 2 p.m. Saturday.

At first, it looked like rain outside of the windows, but then water began trickling down the window panes before turning into more, Arnould said.

“It was like you were in a downpour,” he said.

Arnould said there was never more than an inch or two of standing water as it either soaked into heavy carpeting or kept trickling through the floorboards to the basement.

Earlier Sunday, workers from Advanced Restoration Group were up and down the building working in the affected spaces. Fans had been set up to help dry out wet floors, and in Arnould’s space, carpet had already been ripped out.

Arnould doesn’t know how all the electric cardio workout machines fared — some still had small puddles of water on the seats and computer screens.

Renovations to the space were completed in September, including new paint, windows and floors. The bright yellow walls that were crisp and clean just a day before now have streaks where the water came down.

The gym’s chiropractic office was spared from the water.

On the second floor, Thom Long worked to take wet paper off the walls of his branding agency IdeaCo. Desks with computers that once were arranged near the windows were now piled halfway across the office, and monitors sat on the floor near another wall.

“It was pretty devastating for a lot of people,” Long said.

Long said he hasn’t plugged in any of the computers yet but luckily the company’s server was able to be saved and seemed to be working.

“We can rebuild after that,” Long said.

On the third floor, workers with Advanced Restoration Group were tearing down drywall and insulation from an unoccupied office space. Farther down the hall at Architect Siegfried Porth’s office, wet carpet still sat on the floors waiting to be dealt with.

On the fourth floor, some of the building’s residential tenants gathered in a hallway. Five apartment were affected by the downpour. None of the residents whose apartments were flooded agreed to speak with the Gazette, but resident Beth McElhiney said the residents were pulling together.

“We all need to figure out how to be most helpful,” she said.

“We’re in a great town for disaster,” Seth Lapore joked, noting the strong community.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.
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