Early reports indicate a blockage caused sewage water to back up on the first floor of Mickelson Hall in North Complex Tuesday evening. By 11:30 p.m., the residence hall was operational again.
Floors were disinfected and mopped, water was turned back on, all but one bathroom was opened and only two students were displaced, said Tena Haraldson, director of USD media relations.
At approximately 7 p.m., students reported sewage water in the hallway of the first floor.
First-year student Kallan Groseth said she noticed water on the floor in the hallway when she forgot something in her room. She went back to the hall just before sewage water flowed into her room.
“We have everything on the floor — rugs, electrical lamps — I picked it up as fast as I could,” Groseth said. “We tried to put everything on our beds.”
She said it took two minutes for the water to seep into her room. Six to eight rooms had water on the floor, Haraldson said. By the end of the evening all but two students were in their rooms. The students were moved at their own request.
A plumber arrived at the residence hall around 9:30 p.m. The plumber determined a blockage in the pipes caused an overflow of sewer water on the first floor, Haraldson said.
“It’s not coming from the toilets, it’s just coming from the drains,” said Trevor Gillespie, Mickelson and Beede residence hall director.
Residents of the floor were concerned about getting into their rooms.
“I have a lot of stuff to do (today). I have a test and I have a bunch of stuff due for English and I can’t get in my room,” said first-year Atara Wipf. “I have all my clothes in my room and I don’t even have shoes on. The floor is soaking wet.“
Sewage water was reported coming out of drains in the communal bathroom, handicap bathroom and laundry room on the first floor of Mickelson.
“The water started flowing through the walls,” said first-year Caitlyn Mayer. “We just sat there and watched it come through.”
Water was turned off by residence hall staff throughout the entirety of Mickelson, Haraldson said. Students using water on the upper floors was causing additional problems on the first floor. Water was turned back on by 11:30 p.m.
Residents in Olson, Beede and Richardson were not affected. Housing staff was on hand to assist students. Residents of Mickelson were able to use other North Complex bathrooms while the water was off.
Phil Covington, associate dean of Student Life, said he did not think the backup was due to a broken sewer pipe, but a blockage, Haraldson said late Tuesday.
Residence hall staff attempted to clean the floors with wet-dry vacuums. One bathroom located on the west side of the building on the first floor remained closed for further intense cleaning according to an email from University Housing.
Student Services said the bathroom will be cleaned Wednesday.
“It smells really bad. It smells like diarrhea running out of the drains,” Mayer said. “I am not going to sleep in my room tonight.”
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