By Jenna Mink
When Brigetta Doane left her dorm room Tuesday morning, she did not expect to return to the news that her belongings might be soaking in a puddle on her bedroom floor. But, when she walked into McGregor Hall at noon, officials forbade Doane from going to her room because some floors were flooded.
“I’m worried about where I’m going to go tonight if I can’t get back in,” said Doane, a sophomore graphic design major.
A compressor in the dorm’s control-air system failed Tuesday causing a vacant room on the fifth floor of McGregor to overheat, which set the sprinklers off, said Rich Middleton, director of Facilities Services.
Officials arrived at the scene around 10 a.m. and shut the system down within five minutes. Still, water seeped into the fifth-floor wing and a few floors below. About 20 to 25 rooms were damaged, Middleton said.
“(Shutting down the sprinklers) went fairly smooth in that regard,” he said. “If there’s anything smooth about that process.”
By noon, dozens of residents lingered outside McGregor and waited inside the lobby. Some residents were still wearing their bathrobes. Others asked how they were supposed to go to class without their books or get to work without their car keys.
“We had students with no shoes, (wearing) pajama tops,” said Kenna Middleton, director of University Housing.
No one was initially allowed into their rooms, no matter what floor they lived on, because officials needed time to clean up the damage and rework the fire alarms, which automatically sound when sprinklers go off. Needs attribution here.
If they immediately needed an item from their rooms (like a text book or medicine) students told resident officials, who retrieved the items for them.
Later in the day, the housing staff took groups of students to their rooms to get items they needed, Kenna Middleton said.
“I saw several people with things that were soaking wet and dripping water,” Doane said.
Students were allowed to reoccupy their rooms around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Kenna Middleton said the housing staff did a site review and inventory of the damage.
Workers cleaned rooms with wet vacuums and pulled rugs into the showers to dry, and a laundry group was called to open washing and drying machines to McGregor residents so they can wash their garments free of charge, she said.
But some students were worried about more expensive items.
Unlike many displaced residents, Doane brought her laptop with her to class, but she left behind her iPod, power cords and a $300 refrigerator.
“Just several things that add up,” she said.
But some students were not as worried about the condition of their appliances as they were about the condition of their entire room.
“They told us they have to pick up all the wet stuff off the floor,” said Holly Keltner, a sophomore undeclared major.
“My room’s a pig sty.” Rich Middleton said sprinkler flooding has happened before, and it is usually an accident caused by hanging items, such as clothes, on the sprinklers.