Broken Sprinkler Causes Late-Night Flooding Across Hume Hall

Hume Hall residents were evacuated Tuesday night after an alarm and at least one sprinkler went off, causing flooding.

Thirty-two rooms in Hume Hall East on the ground floor, the first floor and the second floor flooded due to a broken sprinkler head that was set off accidentally, Sharon C. Blansett, the assistant to the associate vice president for Student Affairs, wrote in an email.

Blansett said UF Department of Housing and Residence Education staff members are investigating the circumstances that caused the sprinkler to break.

Brandon Ptak, a Hume East resident, said a blaring alarm went off at about 11:55 p.m.

For about four hours, the 19-year-old UF biochemistry and molecular biology sophomore stood outside the hall with dozens of other students.

“Some students had walked outside without pants, thinking it was just a regular fire drill,” he said.

While they waited, students began speculating on what set off the alarm, he said.

One rumor was that a second-floor resident threw a baseball, which hit a sprinkler.

At about 4 a.m., students living on the third and fourth floors were allowed back inside, Ptak said.

But even after students got back in their rooms, the damage was apparent.

When Ptak left for class Wednesday morning, he had to take the stairs because the elevators had been shut down. Chunks of ceiling tile and debris were on the floor.

Lauren Rostkowski, a 19-year-old UF psychology freshman, said a friend had severe damage in his room, and his bed was entirely soaked.

“From my understanding, he didn’t sleep all night,” she said.

“He was worried about his belongings while also trying to study for exams, which really stressed him out.”

Rostkowski said she was studying in the Hume common area when she saw students running out of the building next door.

On Wednesday morning, she found a large wet spot stretching into her room.

“I could tell from the carpet that water had crept in at least three feet from the hallway,” she said.

Austin Gordon, an 18-year-old UF biology freshman, was working on a quiz when the alarm went off. He ran across the street to Graham Hall to finish it.

“I ended up getting a 100 on the quiz — thank goodness,” he said.

Melissa Johnson, the associate director of the UF Honors Program, sent out an email to the professors of affected students through the Dean of Students Office.

In the email, she wrote that students may have lost computers, textbooks and other belongings.

“Students are being instructed to log any damaged personal property and provide the log to the Housing staff,” Blansett wrote in a separate email. “Further instructions will follow.”

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