South Russell evacuated after flooding early Wednesday morning

South Russell Hall was flooded around 2 a.m. on Wednesday. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer

South Russell Hall was evacuated Wednesday night around 2 a.m. after a broken sprinkler flooded the boys’ side of the second floor, residents said.

“A damaged sprinkler head flooded 17 resident rooms and two apartments in South Russell,” Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications, wrote in an email to the Lariat.

Baltimore freshman Luke Woo said some boys were playing soccer in the hallway when the ball hit and broke the sprinkler on the ceiling causing it to flood the hall.

“A really strong stream of water came down from the sprinkler for a long time,” Woo said. “There was water everywhere, it even seeped through the floor into the hall director’s and faculty in residence’s houses. There was so much water.”

Woo was kept out of his room for over an hour but was later able to sleep in his room because the water damage did not get to his side of the second floor.

“I’m lucky because I got to go to bed a little after 2 [p.m.]. There were guys looking for places to sleep all night,” Woo said. “All the [Community Leaders’] rooms were packed with people sleeping on the floor, but most people had to find friends to stay with.”

Woo said that after the alarm went off, he tried to wait outside South Russell in hopes that he would be let back in soon but ended up going to Moody Library when it got too cold.

“I was so scared when the alarm went off. I thought it was a real emergency so I ran out in just basketball shorts,” Woo said. “We were all helpless trying to figure out what was going on, but I wish I grabbed warmer clothes. It was so cold outside.”

Gaithersburg, M.D., freshman Jennifer Baker said her Community Leader told her to try to find another place to sleep because they would be waiting a while to get back to their rooms. Baker decided to stick it out and wait in Moody Library until she could get back to bed, but she said she didn’t think it would take as long as it did.

“It seemed like all of South Russell was just chilling in the first floor of Moody, waiting to go back to bed,” Baker said. “Most of us were sleeping; we were exhausted.”

The girls were let back in about 20 minutes before the boys, according to Baker and Woo.

Fogleman said that a restoration company has been cleaning up the area, but that some students have been relocated temporarily.

Baker said that a few minutes after she got back into her room she could hear a rush of water coming through the pipes.

“It was so weird I had never heard anything like it before, it sounded like a waterfall coming through the walls,” Baker said. “I was worried we’d have to evacuate again, but everything was fine.”

South Russell is the Education Living and Learning Center, which its website reports has been newly renovated.