Eighteen students were relocated to new rooms after a chilled water valve in the attic of Hamilton hall burst, damaging the second and third floors of the building.
An investigation into what exactly caused the valve to burst is ongoing, but no further information was provided by the university at press time.
Caleb Russell, a sophomore theatre and arts management co-major, was helping his girlfriend, Maddie Wagner, a sophomore Spanish and theatre double major, move back into her room after Thanksgiving break when they discovered the damage.
“My girlfriend’s room is on the very end of the second floor,” Russell said. “Her room, particularly, was affected about 50 percent…due to the room being at the edge of the building and not having a water pipe above it. There was water leaking from her lighting fixtures, and pockets of water that had built up behind the walls to the point where it literally dragged down the ceiling and wall paint. Her rug was damaged, her fridge and microwave were covered by water and all her food was ruined.”
Russell called the police around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 25 to report the damage. The couple believes they were the first to discover the flooding upon returning from break.
Another student, Katherine Block, a sophomore zoology major, came back from break the next day to find that her own room was not flooded or damaged, but there were problems throughout her corridor.
“There are other rooms in my corridor that have water leaking from the ceiling,” Block said. “There are fans in the hallways to dry our hall carpets. There were also pieces of the ceiling on the ground when I came in, but they were taken away by maintenance.”
Claire Wagner, Miami’s director of university news and communications, said the affected students have been moved to other dorms with open rooms or beds — such as Etheridge Hall, Minnich Hall, or the Marcum hotel and conference center — if they were not able to find housing with friends or somewhere off campus. Some students that have not moved yet may still be relocated to another dorm so repairs can be made.
Wagner said that the faulty valve and a functional one have been sent to labs for testing, to hopefully determine whether the installation or valve itself was at fault for the incident.
Wagner did not have an official timeline for when students would be able to return to their rooms, adding that it was too early to make that call.
She added that affected students with damaged property have been provided forms to report those losses. Any damage to school books will be covered immediately.
Vicka Bell-Robinson, director of the Office of Residence Life, noted that the university is assessing which building materials were affected in order to determine what needs to be replaced.
Bell-Robinson clarified that the water does not pose a hazard and no special cleaning techniques or methods are required for cleaning items affected by the flooding.