Flood in Alumni Hall surprises residents

Lee Betancourt

Alumni Hall residents had their Sunday nights interrupted when a fire sprinkler was set off accidentally.

Residents had to evacuate the building after a fire alarm accompanying the sprinkler sounded, and some second-floor residents returned to find their floors covered in water.

Public Safety, maintenance and facilities responded quickly to the scene, Hall Operations Manager Caitlin Driscoll said.

“It was very cut and dry,” she said about the way the situation was handled.

Second-floor RA Eli Roberts said that “someone may have hit the sprinkler with a ball, starting the incident.”

The sprinkler then released a jet of water, and the fire alarm went off.

Sophomore Meet Doshi, a second-floor resident of Alumni, said that he was sitting in his room when he heard something that sounded like marbles falling.

“I looked outside and saw a jet of water going straight into the ground,” he said.

Doshi also said that the water coming out of the jet was gray and murky. Hall residents grabbed a trash can to place under the sprinkler, which filled up within 30 seconds.

Roberts cited the fact that the sprinklers release 800 gallons of water a minute, though he did not know if this was for the entire building system or each particular sprinkler.

Within three minutes, water had reached Doshi’s door, about 15 feet from the jet.

While he was outside waiting for the fire alarm to be shut off, Doshi said that he and his roommate, sophomore Max Stendahl, saw water dripping through the door cracks of the second floor fire escape, leading them to believe that the flood situation inside was serious.

Both the sprinkler and the alarm had to be turned off by maintenance, which arrived within five minutes, Roberts said. Public Safety had already arrived at this ponint.

When students were allowed back into the residence hall, second floor residents discovered that the stream of water from the jet had reached four rooms.

Only students who lived around the flooded lounge area were allowed to that part of the building.

“The stench was awful,” Doshi said of the “stale” water.

When he entered his room, Doshi found that his surge protectors were sitting in a puddle of water and that Stendahl’s PlayStation 2 was dripping with water when he pulled it out of its case.

After three hours of cleanup, their room was back to normal except for their rug, which was drying in front of a fan in the common area.

Other Alumni residents whose rooms were affected by the flood also had to dry and air out their rugs. The second-floor fire escape currently continues to display the drying rugs of the flooded rooms.

The Maintenance night crew arrived at 10 p.m., shortly after the incident occurred and brought wet/dry vacuum cleaners to help clean up the water on the residence hall lounge carpeting.

Overall, the damage was “very minimal,” Driscoll said.

Stephanie Cooper, the residence hall coordinator on South Campus and the Residence Life professional on call this weekend, said that Residence Life made sure it followed up with students. It is also keeping close contact with students to make sure that their concerns with their rooms are addressed.

Despite the negativity of the situation, both Doshi and Roberts said that the whole second floor of Alumni pitched in with the clean-up effort, a positive of the incident.

Alumni is the site of the sophomore Service Learning Community, which emphasizes helping the community and connecting service, reflection and coursework.

Doshi said that everyone leant towels to clean up the mess that the water left in the four rooms and the common second-floor lounge area.

“It was almost community building,” Doshi said, while Roberts said that “everyone involved did a good job.”