College freshman Stephen Fowler awoke Saturday morning to a stream of two to three inches of water under his bed. Outside his room, water had spilled into the surrounding hallways and rooms of Hamilton Holmes Hall between 4 and 7 a.m.
Bryce Robertson, Residence Hall Association vice president of advocacy for Hamilton Holmes said someone must have turned a shower on and let it run for several hours.
Although Fowler’s room was the only residence to receive heavy water damage, the water had extended down the fifth floor hall, but avoided most rooms.
The water, however, did leak down to the fourth floor, inflicting damage to the room below Fowler’s in addition to ruining many ceiling tiles and carpeting below.
Emory Police (EPD) responded to a call around 6 a.m. in response to the flooding.
An EPD report stated that the flooding was found to be noncriminal. The report added that the damage costs and cause of the flooding have yet to be determined.
Students and administrators have differing theories about the flood’s cause.
“Someone left towels over a shower drain and caused water to flood over into a room and a hallway,” Andy Wilson, director of residence life, wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel.
Byron Liu, the Hamilton Holmes residence hall director, agreed with Wilson in an e-mail to the Wheel as to the theory behind the flooding.
Affected students, however, feel that the cause of the flooding was not as simple as a towel over a drain.
College freshman Yiwei Gao awoke around 6:30 a.m. to turn off the flooding shower.
“Based on what I saw, I didn’t notice a towel,” Gao said. “I would say somebody was in there, passed out, blocked the drain and woke up a few minutes before I walked in.”
“Somebody clearly had used a lot of water; it wasn’t a leak in the pipe,” said Robertson. “In this particular case, it appears that someone had actually blocked the drain, whether they sat on it, fell on it, slept on it. There is no way to know who did it.”
Fowler agreed with Robertson, citing that for once it wasn’t the building itself – referring to previous maintenance issues that have plagued the hall – that caused the damage, but simply “someone’s drunken debauchery.”
“I don’t think it was anyone from our floor,” Fowler said. “On weekends, about half the people living here don’t live here.”
Although the incident is disheartening to many residents, affected students have praised Emory’s response time to the flooding.
Fowler noted that 30 minutes from the moment Gao contacted Emory police, officers and maintenance workers arrived at the hall. Fowler added that Emory later contacted a private firm, Full Circle Restoration, to complete the restoration and repair process.
According to Liu, with the restoration process underway, both Fowler and Gao will be displaced for only a couple days.
“At this point, it’s sort of a waiting game to see what’s next, and how quickly people can move back in,” said Robertson. “Hopefully the quick response will help.”
– By Dustin Slade