Students returning from the Labor Day weekend found themselves stranded outside 1300 residence hall Sept. 4 evening when a sprinkler on the second floor was triggered.
Witnesses say the building’s fire alarm went off at a little after 5 p.m. on Monday. The entire building was evacuated.
“I thought it was a routine fire drill,” said Malika Bethea, a freshman marketing major who lives on the first floor of 1300.
Bethea left the building without shoes or her Owl Card and was told by resident advisors to go to the Student Center until the situation was under control.
A student in room S200 on the second floor of the building set off the sprinkler in the common room of his suite. The water from the sprinkler moved down the Southeast hallway and through the floors, eventually traveling to the basement. The water reached the generator, causing the building to lose power.
A majority of the rooms in the Southeast wing of the second floor had little damage. Residents living closest to the sprinkler returned to dampened rooms.
Kira Cooper, a freshman nursing major who was not inside 1300 to hear the actual alarm, returned shortly after to see students waiting outside of the building. Her room was next to the suite where the sprinkler went off.
“I saw a whole lot of people standing outside, and the lights were out in the building,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s roommate, Veronica Getierrez, a freshman biology major, said their room suffered little damage.
“The bathroom mats were soaked and the floors were dirty,” Getierrez said. Getierrez remarked that the tile floors in the room were stained with dirt picked up by the water from the hallway carpets.
“It was a little inconvenient because I had to stay up until 2:30 a.m. cleaning,” Cooper said.
Roommates Bridget Callahan and Amber Volponi live farther down in the Southeast wing. Upon returning to 1300 after their long weekend, they were concerned by what they saw.
“We turned the corner and saw all the people standing outside,” said Callahan, a freshman political science major.
While most residents were permitted back into the building at around 10 p.m., Volponi, a freshman kinesiology major, said residents of their wing were not allowed back in the rooms.
“They let everyone else back in the building except us,” she said. “[Bridget and I] stayed in Temple Towers that night.”
Residents of the second floor Southeast wing were told they could stay in the building’s lounges until their rooms were cleaned. The roommates also said that the students from the room where the water originated were very apologetic.
However, the most damage to the building occurred one floor below, on the first floor. Water seeped through the ceiling tiles, and entered the room of freshmen roommates Bethea and Joby Georgekutty.
“My clothes in my closets were ruined,” Bethea said. The dirty water permanently stained many of her clothes, and caused significant damage to the hallway walls outside of her room. After evacuating the building, Bethea went back to her Northeast Philadelphia home and returned to Temple at 1:00 a.m.
“My suede sneakers got ruined,” said Georgekutty, a freshman business major. “My white pants are now yellow.”
Georgekutty said the lingering effects of the flood include the “sour” smell of the room.
Damp carpeting and musty smells remained on the second floor as late as Friday afternoon. The four residents of the suite in which the accident began gave a remorseful note to all inhabitants of the second floor Southeast wing.
“We all know what happened Monday afternoon was terrible and that many people are very angry and upset,” the letter stated. “But we would like to apologize to anyone affected by the situation … This was a mistake made by an inhabitant of our room that is very much regretted.”
The occupants of the room declined any comment about the incident.
Georgekutty said that she and Bethea never received a copy of the apology letter. Others said they feel that the entire situation was just a lapse of judgment.
“It was dumb, but it was just an accident,” Cooper said. “If anyone’s mad, they should just calm down.”
Chris Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.