The courtyard of Vanderbilt Hall on Old Campus was unusually crowded around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. As firefighters and police arrived to control a flood that started on the fifth floor, hordes of freshmen and their freshman counselors evacuated the dormitory and waited outside for over an hour before they could return inside.
The flood was caused by a damaged fire sprinkler on the fifth floor of entryway F in Vandy. At 12:45 a.m., a Saybrook freshman exited the shower and went to reach for clothes he had hung from one of the low-ceiling fire sprinklers, only to accidentally rupture the sprinkler head. A black, watery substance then began to burst from the sprinkler, directly spraying the student and spreading across the suite floor, according to a video recording shared with the News and accounts from the student’s suitemates. They also explained that, after the rupture, water leaked through a hole in the fifth floor and fell into various rooms on the fourth floor, causing property damage.
Students who live in the entryway added that the incident caused some minor damage to their belongings, especially some of their clothing, but it was those students living on the fourth floor of entryway E — which is directly below the hole — that were impacted most.
“I feel really bad for the people one floor below,” Ethan Lester ’20, a freshman from the fifth-floor suite, said. “Their rooms were really affected.”
Sam Levatich ’17, a freshman counselor who lives in Vanderbilt, said the flooding on the fourth floor was so severe that some students had to be temporarily relocated to another room on campus, and those most affected did not expect to move back in for about two weeks. Lester said the flood caused some of his peers to move temporarily to McClellan Hall, a dorm located near Vanderbilt that houses upperclassmen.
Levatich added that many of these students’ personal belongings were seriously damaged by the flood, and the ceiling must be replaced in some rooms.
Those in the fifth-floor suite at the time of the flood said the water reached a maximum height of three inches, although the evacuation procedure proceeded smoothly and no injuries were reported.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were still around eight large machines present in the suite drying the fifth floor and removing moisture from the wood.
Jamie Cooper ’17, also a freshman counselor in Vanderbilt, said almost everyone in the dorm was able to return to his or her room that night, except for students in four suites who had to sleep elsewhere in Vanderbilt and in Saybrook College.
“Let’s just say it ruined an otherwise good night,” said Sam Rimm-Kaufman ’20, a member of the fifth-floor suite.
But Lester noted that there were still some upsides to the otherwise negative experience.
“It at least gave me a sweet night in the guest suite at Saybrook,” he said.
Vanderbilt Hall was built in 1894.