BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO // OCT. 31, 2017 //

Flooding in South Campus Residence Hall due to an activated sprinkler system sent students scrambling to find dry ground.

On Sunday, October 29, students were startled by screeching sirens at approximately 12:32 a.m.

Upon arrival, Public Safety determined that a fire sprinkler system was set off in a third-floor suite, sending water rushing down the main stairwell and into the rooms of residents in the affected areas.

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Some ceiling tiles appear to have water marks and damage from the sprinkler flooding // image credit: Christianna Casaletto ’18

Dom Ramasci, a junior criminal justice major and resident of SCRH, saw the flooding firsthand.

“I was leaving the building and as I approached the main stairwell, I heard gushing water,” he explained. “I entered the stairwell and saw water pouring out of a pipe. Gallons of water were flowing into the hallway and down the stairs.”

Milton Fire Department arrived shortly after and shut off water activated by the system.

However, due to safety concerns, it wasn’t until after 3:00 a.m. that students were allowed to return into the residence hall.

One of the main concerns is that water damage would cause electrical issues and Public Safety deemed it unsafe for students to stay in the affected rooms until a proper inspection was completed.

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Roommates Amanda Paul ’18 and Kelsey Tagen ’18 had to move all items off their floors and set up fans to dry the damp carpets // image credit: Kelsey Tagen ’18

According to Public Safety and Residence Life, 27 students experienced room damage. These students were asked to stay elsewhere for up to 48 hours for inspection and cleanup. Additionally, students unable to find a place to stay for the night were given temporary housing accommodations.

However, Building and Grounds assessed and repaired damage, and on Sunday afternoon all impacted students were able to return to their rooms. B&G additionally provided dehumidifiers and fans to help dry rooms and will replace mattresses if necessary.

The College is currently accommodating nine students whose rooms will need additional repair in the coming weeks.

“All of these students were offered temporary housing, however only two have decided to relocate,” explained Director of Public Safety, Paul King.

Senior nursing major Laura Ferris, a student in one of the affected rooms, said that her room is still in the process of drying and that additional school provided features had been damaged.

“Our Wi-Fi box in our room broke because of the water damage so now we don’t have Wi-Fi in our suite,” said Ferris.

What many students are still unaware of is the cause of the water flow.

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Students still have significant water damage to their rooms, such as this water bubble // image credit: Laura Ferris ’18

Rumored causes include student error activating the sprinkler system, faulty pipes bursting, and a combination of the two; although all of these speculations have not been confirmed.

While the official cause of the fire sprinkler system activation is still under investigation, Director King stated that “the College is not aware of any problems with the building’s pipe system.”

Milton Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Daley was unable to go into significant detail because the “incident is still under investigation.”

“However, I can tell you that the Milton Fire Department responded to an activated sprinkler in [SCRH],” said Deputy Chief Daley.

Students were advised to report any damaged personal items and were informed that claims for reimbursement should be done through personal Renter’s Insurance or Home Owner’s Insurance.

The students in the affected rooms received a similar email from Residence Life Sunday afternoon.

Shauna Nickerson, a senior nursing major and one of the affected students, experienced a similar situation her freshman year when heavy snowfall and subsequent melting caused a leak in her dorm room.

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Buildings and Grounds advised students in affected rooms to move all of their belongings to a dry area and allow the carpets to completely dry // image credit: Laura Ferris ’18

“My freshman year it took about a month for me to be able to live in my room again and I didn’t receive any updates,” said Nickerson. “This time around they notified me of the situation and let me reoccupy my room in a timely manner.”

However, Nickerson, like many students, is still frustrated that a cause has not yet been determined or revealed.

“I know the water damage my freshman year was due to weather, but it’s frustrating that residents this year don’t even know how the water [flooding] began.”

Nicole Harkins, a senior psychology major, says that the ceiling of her suite has a crack in it but is just thankful the damage to her suite wasn’t worse.

“It’s frustrating but ours isn’t as bad as other people so I understand why they’re concerned with repairing those suites first,” Harkins noted.

This story is developing and will be updated as details emerge.

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