Students are worried about their belongings being compromised due to floods happening on campus.
Two different instances have occurred to warrant these concerns: a pipe connection failure in Brazell Hall and a lavatory valve failure in Bonbright Hall. Students are still worried that they will be the next affected.
“When the pipe burst, the room started flooding with hot iron-colored water. It started coming out from the sides and under the door of the bathroom,” said Brooklynn Jonassen (‘20), who had valve failure in her bathroom on the first floor of Bonbright.
This was the first instance this semester. An alarm went off in Bonbright and Carey, evacuating everyone from the buildings.
“We were told to grab anything we would need for at least 48 hours,” said Jonassen.
She and her roommate were then moved into Newberry. Facilities told them to grab things for at least 48 hours, but they were notified they could move back in later in the week.
“We went and looked [at the room], and it was not cleaned at all,” said Jonassen, who decided to stay in Newberry instead.
The second instance this semester was on the second floor of Brazell Hall, where there was a failure in the pipe connection. This was due to the overnight winter temperatures.
“As the water within the pipe froze, it expanded and pushed apart the solder joint (what holds two pipes together).
There are hundreds of miles of piping on this campus and hundreds upon thousands of connecting joints [and] valves everywhere on this campus for heating and domestic water. It only takes one perfect scenario for a piece of infrastructure to fail,” said Ryan Stoudt, associate director of facilities.
With this being an interior issue based on outside temperatures, students cannot do anything to keep this from happening.
“When a situation happens, it is unfortunately inevitable for the people in the immediate area [to be affected],” said Stoudt.
The majority of the floor was flooded, along with some of the first floor, as well.
“There were 21 students affected during the Brazell incident,” said Stoudt.
“I was in my room just chilling when I heard a girl yelling in the hall, so I got out of bed and walked to my door, only to step into water,” said Katie Wilder (‘20).
She opened her door to see water flowing from the room across the hall.
“It took security [around 10] minutes to show up, and then they called facilities. At this point, the water was moving pretty fast, so I put some towels down in an attempt to delay the flow. Overall, it took an hour and 20 minutes for facilities to show up and turn
the water off. [Campus officials] will now be training security on where the water mains are and how to shut them off in all the buildings on campus, since they apparently didn’t know how to do that before.”
Students who had damage to their rooms were put into temporary housing while their rooms were cleaned and were let back in throughout that week, most being back within 24 hours.
Stoudt stressed that though this may seem like a large amount of people being affected by these instances, this was only two incidents campus-wide; they just happened to both be on south campus.
“This is a really low number in comparison to the amount of piping we have through the campus. Any and all areas on campus are subject to [failure]; this does not just pertain to south campus,” said Stoudt.
If students are wondering what precautionary actions they should take in case a situation like this happens to them as well, Stoudt recommends students read the Housing Agreement Terms and Conditions under article 19 to become better informed. To be brief, this states that Alma College is not responsible for damage to or loss of property for any reason, which includes flooding. Many parents’ homeowner insurance policies may also cover a certain amount of damages, but students would need to look more into that themselves.
The Housing Agreement also strongly recommends that residents on campus look into and secure renter’s insurance to protect themselves against something like this happening, because it can happen at any time without warning.
“Make sure cords, backpacks [and anything else] are off the ground because you never know when something might happen and if you’ll be here to react to it,” said Wilder.