Six rooms in Pralle-Sodaro Hall flooded after sprinkler causes leak

Six rooms in Pralle-Sodaro Hall were flooded after a vendor set off an emergency sprinkler system just days before freshman move-in day.

The water leaked into the parking structure underneath the residence hall, Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience Dave Sundby wrote in an email to The Panther.

“I received a text maybe an hour after it happened and saw water pouring into the parking structure underneath Pralle,” Sundby wrote. “It was bad.”
The first-floor freshman rooms, all triples, needed emergency remediation and repair due to the flood, Sundby said.

“Remediation is a fancy word for drying everything out thoroughly to avoid any chance of mold, mildew or other water-related issues,” he wrote. “All the carpet in the hallway and all six rooms had to be trashed. Much of the drywall in each room was also saturated and needed to be demolished in order to dry things out before the repair.”

Angie Wong, a freshman health sciences major, and her roommates were displaced from their first-floor room in Pralle-Sodaro Hall after a sprinkler accident caused flooding before move-in day Aug. 22. Photo by Jackie Cohen

Despite staff working for 24 hours a day during the weekend after the flood, the rooms were not ready for the Aug. 22 move-in date, Sundby wrote.

“There is only so much you can do to speed along the drying process, and it is not worth the risk of mold to speed up the process,” he wrote.

The incoming students assigned to the flooded rooms were temporarily housed in the Sandhu Residence Center. Maya Cowan, a freshman psychology major, was one of the students whose rooms were affected by the flood.

“I thought it was pretty horrible timing,” Cowan said. “It’s not like it was in anyone’s hands, really — it wasn’t something that could be controlled. It was frustrating, because my mom couldn’t help me move in the day that she planned. But it was also kind of exciting. Sandhu (Residence Center) was really nice.”

Sundby wrote that half of the affected rooms were ready by 9 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 23, and the remaining three rooms were move-in ready at about 7 p.m. Aug. 24.

To help mitigate the inconvenience, Sundby told The Panther that he spoke with nearly every student and family personally between Tuesday to Thursday. He said he also provided them with movers to help move items from Sandhu when the rooms were ready.

Cowan’s room was ready for her to move in at 8 a.m. Aug. 24, she said. However, she did experience some trouble with the move-in process.

“We were supposed to have movers come in and help us, and we were waiting for an hour for them and they didn’t show up,” Cowan said. “After an hour, we just decided to start moving things ourselves. They finally came later, but we had pretty much moved everything by then.”

Emma Ballantyne, a freshman psychology major whose room was also affected by the flood, moved into her room in Pralle-Sodaro Hall Aug. 24 at 10 p.m.

“It was pretty stressful the first few days, because we weren’t around freshmen which was annoying, and we couldn’t unpack, which was a pain,” Ballantyne said.

By Aug. 25 at about 11 a.m., all students were completely moved into their Pralle rooms, Sundby said.

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