Mercyhurst closes through weekend due to city water main break

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Erie Festival of Dance, originally scheduled for Saturday at the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center, has been moved to the McDowell Intermediate Theater, 3320 Caughey Road. Performances remain at 2 and 7 p.m. The film, "Argo," slated for Friday, has been rescheduled for Feb. 1 at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. in Taylor Little Theater. This weekend's home hockey games have been relocated. For details, visit hurstathletics.com.)

Mercyhurst University officials announced the closing of its Erie campus today, effective at 12:30 p.m., after a water main break that had created pressure issues on Wednesday worsened, leaving some areas of campus without water.

As of this morning, employees of Erie Water Works had yet to locate the origin of the water main break that has already affected several thousand customers and closed schools and businesses in east Erie, among them neighboring Mercyhurst Preparatory School.

The decision to send students and nonessential employees home became necessary for health and sanitation reasons, with the loss of water impacting washroom facilities and buildings dependent on boiler heat.

Students were advised of the decision through an all-campus e-mail and were encouraged to support each other as they made plans to head home or to a friend’s for the weekend. University officials were hopeful that with the weekend approaching, students would be in a better position to get home. Classes are expected to resume on Monday.

Meanwhile, provisions are being made for students unable to leave campus. Residence halls with heat sources not dependent on water are being made available as housing options for students who remain. It may also become necessary to acquire portable sanitation stations for some buildings, university officials said. The university’s food service contractor is also taking measures to provide meals for those unable to leave.

Meanwhile, weekend events planned on the Erie campus, including athletic contests, Friday’s screening of “Argo,” and Saturday’s Erie Festival of Dance and Teaching & Learning Expo, have been canceled. Mercyhurst athletics officials were investigating alternative sites for this weekend’s hockey games. More details to follow.

The university community should monitor e-mail, the Mercyhurst web site and text message alerts for any updates. For additional questions, please contact Mercyhurst Police & Safety at 814-824-2304.
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