White College flooding causes residents to relocate

McKenna Dosier/TheNews

Story by Abby Siegel, News Editor

Flooding caused by an activated sprinkler Sunday required female residents on the seventh floor of White Residential College to relocate while the floor was being cleaned and damaged was accessed.

According to crime logs provided to The Murray State News from Public Safety and Emergency Management, at 3:44 p.m. the Central Heating and Cooling Plant reported a sprinkler alarm activation with no threat of fire. Public Safety, the Murray Fire Department, on-call Professional Housing staff, Central Plant and the state Fire Marshall’s office were notified.

The crime log stated that the sprinkler activation was caused by a clothes hanger on the sprinkler head.

“Due to the volume of water that was disbursed, university staff decided that the best course of action was to temporarily place impacted residents from the seventh floor of White residential hall into alternate on-campus residential housing at Old Franklin residential hall,” said Shawn Touney, director of communication.

Rachel Barnett, freshman from Adairville, Kentucky, and seventh-floor resident of White, said when the sprinkler was activated it sprayed close to 1,000 gallons of water across the seventh floor.

Touney said the rooms on the west wing of the seventh floor received approximately three inches of standing water. The sixth floor had water spots, but no damage.

Barnett said residents were encouraged to relocate with a friend on or off campus if they chose not to move to Old Franklin. She said she decided to room with a friend in Regents Residential College, and she said she was happy that visitation policies didn’t apply to her during this time.

“University staff are in the process of restoring the impacted areas in order to assist residents in their return to White, which is expected to occur over the next few days,” Touney said.

Barnett said all residents were required to evacuate while resident advisers went to the seventh floor to move residents’ items that were on the floor of their rooms.

McKenna Dosier/TheNews

McKenna Dosier/TheNews

She said before temporarily relocating seventh-floor residents were given 10 minutes to gather belongings they needed for a minimum of two days. She said Tuesday morning she received an email from the housing office saying residents would be able to move back into White Wednesday at 7 a.m.

Barnett said all of her textbooks were ruined in the flooding in addition to many pairs of her shoes, her mini-fridge and microwave.

“All of my notebooks, like every note I’ve taken this year, is ruined,” Barnett said.

She said her professors have been supportive in giving extensions on homework assignments.

Renae Duncan, associate provost for undergraduate education, sent an email to college deans Monday morning requesting that they provide extensions to the residents impacted by the flooding.

Barnett said other residents lost their computers and printers because of the flooding.

“I’m actually really thankful that it wasn’t any worse,” Barnett said.

Touney said all seventh-floor residents were provided with the link to the Kentucky Board of Claims if they choose to file a claim as it is the university’s standard procedure for property claims.

“University housing has instructed all of the impacted residents to contact their parents to let them know about any losses they sustained so that they may file on their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies,” Touney said.

Barnett said when her mom contacted her insurance agency they said they were not liable for the damages.

“It’s basically coming out of our pocket,” Barnett said. “But people are people — they make mistakes.”

She said the residents on the seventh floor are extremely thankful for the hard work their RAs have done during the process.