Thrown keys caused Elder Hall flood in May

Matthew Choi, Reporter

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The flooding in Elder Hall last May, which resulted in about $30,000 in damages, was caused by a students’ thrown set of keys activating the sprinkler system.

The student accidentally struck a sprinkler head May 28 on the third floor of the building while passing a set of keys to another student, said Paul Riel, the executive director of Residential Services.

“Just one head was activated, but it’s in a hallway and it’s designed to push out a lot of water obviously to knock down smoke and fire in the event there is smoke and fire in a building,” Riel said “By the time staff were able to respond and disable the system, a lot of water had been pushed into the building.”

The flood mostly affected student rooms, causing the relocation of 22 students for the remainder of the quarter. Water also leaked through the floor and drained into lobby areas below the third level, Riel said.

Because cleanup and repairs would have been too disruptive to complete with students remaining on the floor, Residential Services provided assistance for students to relocate the following weekend, he said. Elder Hall has since been fully repaired.

“We brought crews in and began to extract the water to get as much water out of the building as we could, and then decided because so many rooms were affected, we needed to relocate those students for the rest of the quarter,” Riel said. “We cleaned it up, put new carpet in and are back to normal.”

Residential Services worked through the night to find students temporary places to stay before moving them to Bobb-McCulloch, Riel said. Vincent Bommier, a McCormick freshman whose room was affected by the flooding said the transition was seamless and efficient.

“The day of the flooding, the (Residential Director) and the (Resident Assistants) were pretty quick to tell us what was going on and in giving their rooms in Plex if we wanted,” Bommier said. “By Sunday, we had movers and five boxes for each person … so it really wasn’t a hassle.”

Twitter: @matthewchoi2018
Email: matthewchoi2018@u.northwestern.edu

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