January 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 23°F


Residents to return after Tower flooding

Students displaced by a flood in East Tower Monday are expected to start moving back into their rooms today. All 12th floor residents were forced to evacuate after a sprinkler was damaged.

On Monday, a sprinkler was damaged by an unknown person or persons on the 12th floor of East Tower, which forced students to evacuate. Public Safety is investigating the cause of the incident. Graham Hebel/The Ithacan

Dave Maley, associate director of media relations, said the sprinkler went off between 9:30 and 10 p.m. and affected primarily floors seven through 12.

Maley said the investigation into the damaged sprinkler is ongoing, but there are indications that a person or persons may have been “playing around or throwing objects” that broke the sprinkler.

Though the total damage cost is not yet known, Jenny Pickett, assistant director of residential life, said the damaged card readers were fixed yesterday, and the repair cost for just those was about $7,000.

“Currently, the 12th floor is not able to be occupied because of the water damage, and so we made arrangements for alternative housing for any students that need it and are looking to repair any damage caused by the water,” Maley said.

Freshman Jordan Mancuso said he was in the shower when the fire alarm went off Monday.

“When I looked out in the hallway, it was really crazy,” he said. “There was water pouring, pouring out of the ceiling, but they said it was about 2 to 3 inches at most.”

He said because the water was only on the floor, his personal belongings were mostly unharmed.

Mancuso said students evacuated Monday and were told to find someplace else to sleep. He said they were told to expect to stay elsewhere for the next two to three days.

Pickett said residential life reached out to the displaced students on the 12th floor Tuesday to let them grab belongings and also helped them find alternate housing.

“We’ve heard from everybody on the odd side which had water in their rooms, so of the 14 of them, we’ve housed 12 of them, and we’ve housed a handful of students on the north side,” she said.

Pickett said residential life is waiting for facilities to give them a time frame of when students on the 12th floor can move back in, but they are hoping to allow students to move back in today.

Freshman Drew Kellogg, a resident of the 12th floor on the south side, said he was at Cornell University for a rehearsal when the flooding occurred, but said his sketchbook and several other items on the floor were damaged.

“When I went in my room, the door was open and the rug was already completely ruined pretty much, so we threw that out, and our beanbag chair was ruined,” he said. “A lot of our clothes and shoes were on the floor and they were all water damaged.”

Terrence Flanigan, facilities attendant, cleans out a room Wednesday on the 12th floor of East Tower. Kevin Campbell/The Ithacan

Freshman Jon Heroux, also a resident of the 12th floor, said his room was one of the worst affected because it was close to the damaged sprinkler.

“We were standing in the room, water exploded,” he said. “It sounded like someone was vacuuming up skittles in the hallway. I opened up the door to have a deluge of gray, horribleness fly at me.”

Heroux said residential life was helpful throughout the situation to assist him and his roommates find a room in Emerson Hall until the damage is fixed.

Maley said administration alerted faculty and staff that the incident occurred.

“We want to make them aware that there were students last night that did not have access to their computers and class materials that they might have needed for today,” he said.

The water not only flowed into students’ rooms on the south side but also seeped into the electrical closet that was across from the sprinkler, Picket said, causing the card readers to short out.

“There’s been staff working on this since 9:30 last night around the clock,” she said.

Students with damaged items need to either have their renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance cover it, Pickett said.

Kellogg said he is worried about the cost of repairs and reimbursement for damaged items.

“I’m going here without any financial aid, without any FAFSA, and I’m paying half my own way, so the fact that some of my things that I have brought with me might be ruined, I can’t really do anything about that,” he said. “It’s kind of a waiting game to see if the school will cover it or our insurance will cover it or what’s going to happen.”

The Office of Public Safety declined to comment on the incident.