Overflowing Bathroom: Yet Another Out of Order Stall

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An overflowing toilet in the fourth floor girls’ bathroom caused a great amount of water to flood into the hallways and classrooms on Monday. Although the flooding was substantial, the custodians were able to quickly clean up the water and repair the bathroom stall that was out of order.

The water from the toilet flooded the bathroom, hallway, and classrooms near the girls’ bathroom. During sixth band, water began to trickle down to the third and second floor.

One of the classes affected by the flood was English teacher Brian Sweeney’s sixth band writing process classroom in room 414, near the bathrooms. Students in the class experienced moments of confusion as the water started to seep into the room. Freshman Joyce Zheng recalled, “Our class started freaking out when we saw water coming under the door.”

According to students, Mr. Sweeney took steps to ensure that all students were safe. However, the flooding continued to worsen, as the water started to rise in the wire-filled computer lab. Freshman Afifa Ibnat said, “We moved in a single-file line through the back door of the classroom because the front was completely soaked, and as we tiptoed across the room, we saw the water spreading.”

“At this point the water is far in, almost halfway between the door and windows, and still coming in,” freshman Natalia Gierlachowski continued. “Everyone was realizing we were in a room full of computers and wires, so it was a giant fire hazard and we really had to get out.” The class was relocated to the auditorium, where they were able to continue their lesson in a safer environment.  

Luis Perez, a member of the custodial staff at Townsend Harris, explained that the flood was due to a failure in one of the pipes. He stated, “In one of the toilet bowls, the supply pipe that supplies the water when you flush came off of it and the paddle that you push to flush got stuck in the open position, so water was just running out.” Although the flood was considerable, Mr. Perez explained, “The other custodians and I caught it and vacuumed it up and cleaned it up and that was it.”

The news of the flood quickly spread throughout the school. Ms. Anna Pace, payroll secretary at Townsend Harris, stated, “I went into the bathroom, and I walked into a waterfall. Then I came right away and told Ms. Del Vecchio [secretary to Assistant Principal Ellen Fee]; and she responded ‘I know, you’re the eighth or ninth person who has already told me about it.’”

Despite this quick fix, there have been many other issues with the toilets during the school year. Out of order signs found on bathroom stalls are very common and have lead to issues in the bathrooms.

Natalia Gierlachowski said, “It’s frustrating having to wait in lines constantly because only one of the four stalls work. It takes time away from my classes, from where I have to be, or what I have to do.”

Nevertheless, the custodial staff is working to ensure that as many stalls as possible are accessible. The flooded toilet is now fixed and usable.