Students living in Deaton Hall were forced out of their dorm rooms early Sunday morning because of heavy flooding caused by a stray lacrosse ball toss.
What started as typical dorm shenanigans quickly escalated as a group of students tossing a lacrosse ball in the hallway clipped a sprinkler head on the fourth floor, causing it to burst open and spray water across the hall.
The student who threw the ball said that as soon as it hit the ceiling, four tiles immediately started leaking and water poured onto the floor and down the stairs.
On estimate, a single sprinkler emits 8-24 gallons of water per minute according to the People’s Burn Foundation, a nonprofit educating students on fire safety.
Oxford Fire Department Deputy Chief Adam Patton said the fire department had the situation under control within an hour, and once his officers had assisted University Facility Management with shutting off the water, they left the scene.
According to residents, the flooding started around 12:30 a.m. and was accompanied by a fire alarm. The water flowing from the sprinkler quickly spread across Deaton Hall, soaking rooms, rugs and drywall, as well as students’ personal property.
“It went off at 12:30 (a.m.), and then we had to all evacuate, you know, people were in boxers and stuff across the street,” Deaton Hall resident Jared Grover said. “They told us we couldn’t get in originally that night, so then we waited around for two hours.”
Deaton Hall, which has approximately 50 rooms, was fully evacuated following the burst.
“A bunch of people were being idiots upstairs,” said Grover. “My library books were screwed up.” He said he is hoping the library will waive any fines under the circumstances.
Grover added that many of the students who were displaced went to stay in Stewart Hall, which had vacant rooms.
As late as Tuesday morning, the hum of drying fans and dehumidifiers filled the hallways, the elevators were not operating, portions of the ceiling were crumbled — complete with exposed pipes and wires — and a stench of mildew filled the air.
One student on the fourth floor was seen lying in bed Tuesday morning as a maintenance worker fixed his air conditioning.
Deaton Hall resident Jonathan Briggs said many of the rooms on various floors were affected as a result of the burst, and he and his roommate lost multiple rugs as well as a few pairs of shoes.
“I’m on the second floor, and we had, like, a centimeter of water in our room,” Briggs said.
Briggs and Grover were not the only students affected by the flooding.
One student said that when he returned home at 9 a.m. Sunday morning, he still had water on his floor, and he and his roommate had to grab towels and mop it up.
Both Briggs and Grover mentioned that they knew a student who lost an Xbox, as well as another student who lost an entire gaming computer setup.
Many students had to move their rugs to the balconies on each floor, as well as other soaked clothes, shoes and couch cushions.
Deaton Hall resident Cole Bullock, an Ole Miss cross-country athlete, said he had a recruit in his room during the incident.
“The fire alarm went off. We thought it was our alarm clocks at first, but it was pretty obvious after a second,” Bullock said. “We walked out of the door. We didn’t know what was going on, and it sounded like a waterfall upstairs.”
The two left the dorm and waited on the sidewalk with the rest of the displaced students.
UM spokesman Rod Guajardo said that by Monday afternoon, the students who relocated to vacant dorm rooms had moved back into their rooms in Deaton.
The University Communications Department did not respond to requests for comment about the cost of the damages.
When asked what kind of advice he would give to students who might think throwing a lacrosse ball in the hallway is a good idea, Bullock said, “Definitely go outside. Be smart. Go to bed. Wake up. That’s about it.”