Night of burst pipes across Boston: Hospitals, theater, mall all hit
So far tonight, burst pipes caused by the sudden freeze have forced three hospitals to send patients elsewhere, left Wang Theatre patrons out in the cold, angrily yelling to be let back in, and flooded a floor at the Prudential Center mall.
This evening, Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital and St. Elizabeth's Medical Center all declared a "code black" - they were no longer accepting patients at their emergency rooms. At BMC, at least, the cause was a burst pipe right in the emergency room.
Around 5 p.m. at the Boch Center, 10 minutes before comedian James Murray was due to take the stage for an "Impractical Jokers" show, Boston firefighters ordered the complex evacuated after sprinklers flooded the building's basement:
So sorry to our Boston fans. 5 minutes before showtime, the frozen pipes burst in the theater, forcing the fire department to evacuate everyone & shut the venue. We're rescheduling to April 29. All tix will be honored & refunds given if need be. Stay warm tonight - we love you! pic.twitter.com/VhlmYgxcJW
— Murr (@jamessmurray) February 5, 2023
Fans were left standing outside for more than an hour without any word from the theater whether they'd be let back in. Many chanted "Let us in!" Live Boston reports:
Large group still stranded outside of the @WangTheatre/@BochCenter now chanting “LET US IN”. No update has been provided yet and temps are still hovering around 10 degrees. We have reached out to their press office for more info, haven’t heard back yet. https://t.co/2bjKdtgAld pic.twitter.com/FnyZDZRKWj
— Live Boston (@LiveBoston617) February 4, 2023
Jamie Belsito captured some of the flooding near the Lululemon at the Pru mall tonight:
Edward Orde watched the water pouring out of the South Bay Best Buy:
Boston firefighters and ISD inspectors were kept busy inspecting burst pipes in basements across Boston.
MFA springs a leak.
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Outside for an hour?
The Wang Theatre patrons had reason to be angry - being forced to stand outside for an hour in 10F temps is dangerous! This is a situation where a decision should have been made quickly, for the sake of everyone's safety.
I mean throwing everyone out
I mean throwing everyone out is kinda a decision. Unless someone told them it would be just a few minutes it was pretty clear that when the fire dept orders an everyone out they aren't just going to be opening the doors again a couple minutes later
SHAME ON ERNIE BOCH JR
Elderly, kids, and ME all left outside being told to wait “momentarily” for an update… since when is 1 1/2 hours momentarily. Now they’re blocking people on social media, turning off comments and not answering questions or even apologize. Shame on Boch!!
Don't disagree, but we don't know how long it took to find the problem nor for BFD to give the go/nogo (or if they even tried a quick repair). But better communication about any of the above would have been super easy (tweet "we are investigating' or such.)
Hate to say - glad my tix were for 8:00 show this time...
If it took long, should have made a decision w/o info
In dangerous weather, you tell people after 10 minutes that they can leave and get a refund. Alternatively, tell them to go get some coffee and return in for more info. What you don't do is have them stand outside and get hypothermia or frostbite.
This group of patrons wasn't
This group of patrons wasn't smart enough to use their own initiative to get out of the cold? How about a little personal responsibility.
Perhaps the BFD should have
Perhaps the BFD should have directed them to seek shelter.
This isn't an apartment building.
They should've gone home.
We’re they not allowed to leave?
Who stands in the clod that long for Murr from Impractical Jokers! We’re not talking about Dave Chappell or Bill Burr here, go home or to a close bar and hope the Wang refunds your $15 tickets.
I had a bad feeling about this
I dropped my son's partner off at the Pru mall for their 10 am shift start because I didn't trust the T to get there. It was still well below zero and windy when I picked them up.
0 Fahrenheit must be the modern design standard for Boston because it seems like this happens whenever we have an exceptionally cold night or a string of arctic vortex days.
BU Medical School Building
The Robinson Building at the BU medical school flooded on the 7th floor in the afternoon, causing “major damage” down through to the 4th floor. Presumably caused by a burst pipe, although no cause was given in the text announcement.
I wonder if they turn the heat down in these buildings automatically at night and on weekends and if that contributes to the problem.
The real test is today
When the temps get into the mid-40s and pipes that have remained frozen since Friday thaw.
Main entrance is open, elevator operational, escalators out of service, but that may change later today.
Edit: elevator came back into service seconds after I posted first msg.
But not Eataly!
Eataly is closed, word on the collonnade is they had a refrigeration shutdown storewide.
That's going to be some expensive spoilage!
Maybe, maybe not
If nobody is opening or closing the units then the food may stay in the safe zone. If they have temperature loggers on the fridges and freezers (and the restaurant can show the data to health inspectors) they will be able to use the food.
Plus, I would expect they're insured against that sort of thing. But I was thinking about all those customer-facing prepared foods, display-case meats and seafood, etc., not so much the frozen stuff. Still, major pain in the butt.
Maybe it's an anachronism, but major venues such as the Wang Center used to offer a coat check; patrons were actually discouraged from bringing winter coats into the auditorium. Being forced to evacuate without one's coat would exacerbate the situation greatly.
Boston is full of busy plumbers today.
(And, from the depths of my dry basement, a shout-out to PEX)
The most northern major city
The most northern major city on the east coast and our infrastructures can’t even properly handle a cold snap ! Come on!
I will Never understand how
I will Never understand how houses and other buildings in this town are made this way. It’s not like we don’t get pipe freezing temps every winter. And flat rooves? Unbelievable!
Colder than other winters
It went down to -10F where I am by the time I went to bed in the wee hours of Saturday morning. For the first time in over 25 years that I've lived in this house, leaving the cabinets under the kitchen sink open, heat on high, and faucet dripping wasn't enough to keep my drain from freezing.
Places had burst pipes that never have that in the winter. Our local library, a nearby supermarket, the school of public health where I work all had burst pipes for the first time in memory.
Also, the swing in temps was outside the ordinary. -10F early Saturday to 50F now - we don't usually get 60 degree temp swings in less than 36 hours.
We don't build for once in a century situations
On the other hand, I can remember these things happening in 2004, 2010, 2014, 2016 ...
While this sudden dip was pretty epic, other years have seen near or below zero temps over a span of days freezing things up pretty badly, too. The building that I worked in in 2014 closed for two days because "keeping warm enough to prevent from freezing the plumbing" and "letting people open and close the doors all day" were mutually exclusive.
The problem likely lies in some building code and spec language that is based on climate zones and likely predates the advent of the weakening of the circumpolar arctic jet. Even modern buildings were built or renovated prior to the increase in unpredictable arctic vomit episodes.
It is a good bet that the insurance companies will start making demands around retrofits or will make owners pay through the nose.
Residentially this is
Residentially this is exacerbated by the number of homes that were built pre-plumbing, and when plumbing WAS added, they ran it through exterior walls. Literally every century home I've lived in in Boston had pipes on outside walls, just insane in this climate, but that's how it was retrofitted.
Why so much whining?
Why so much whining?
Oooh. Sick burn.