A sewage backup flooded the first floor of Aquinas Hall for the third time this semester on Tuesday afternoon, and University housing officials asked residents not to use restrooms or running water. Residents got the all-clear at 8:34 a.m. Wednesday.
A paper clog caused the flooding and occurred in the same line involved in the flooding on Aug. 24 and Sept. 16. Facilities and Operations began working to solve the problem immediately, according to Tara Hart, director of housing and residence life.
Hart confirmed that Housing and Residence Life was notified of the situation around 5:30 p.m. This holding off on water usage was necessary to help professionals clear the clog as soon as possible, Hart said. The Rec Center remained open until 11 p.m. to accommodate students who needed to use the restroom there, while Public Safety and Security were available to open Alfieri Hall for residents to use the facilities overnight, Hart said.
Facilities Engineering will be “running a camera through to see if there is an issue with the line,” Laurie Pine, director of media relations said. According to Pine, a pen was later found in the clog.
Students reported seeing housekeeping staff vacuuming water in the hallways Tuesday night during the flood. Aquinas residents were informed in another email sent Wednesday morning by Housing and Residence life that Housekeeping would sanitize hallways and rooms that were affected by the flood.
An email from Hart on Wednesday morning to residents in rooms 100-115 said they will be given $50 in Pirates Gold for laundry needs. These are the suites that were most affected by the sewer line clog flooding, according to the email.
Resident Juilianne Shuster said that this is the third time her room has flooded since she moved into Aquinas Hall. The flooding was usually contained in the bathroom, she said, but this time it went all the way into her room, amounting to an estimated inch of sewage. “I saw it… steadily creeping into my room from my bathroom,” Shuster said.
According to Shuster, it took about two hours after she called to report the flood until housekeeping arrived to “vacuum” the water. “I stepped down yesterday morning from my bunk bed into nasty sewer water, it smells horrible, too. I had to go to the library to get away from it,” Shuster said.
Her roommate Lindsey Dorainvil said she saw an unidentified brown substance floating in the water on her floor. “It was pretty disgusting,” Dorainvil said.
“Housekeeping has been cleaning and sanitizing the rooms impacted as well as the hallways, so as to ensure the health and wellbeing of the Aquinas residents,” Hart said.
HRL is asking that Aquinas residents “be conscientious in helping reduce the likelihood of a recurrence, by refraining from flushing any item except toilet tissue,” Hart said.
Mary Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.