University of Michigan students on North Quad flooding: 'It looked like it was raining'
Editor's note: Update: Officials are now reporting there were 32 students displaced. According to original reports, it was believed 100 students were displaced by the flooding.
- For an updated story, see University of Michigan's North Quad up and running 5 days after flood
University of Michigan sophomore Keli Yew was sitting at her desk, legs half curled up in her chair as she studied when suddenly she sensed things moving on her floor.
"Some insect?" she thought, absorbed in her textbook and distracted by an upcoming exam. "I didn't quite pay attention."
Courtesy photo | Heidi Skrzypek
Yew soon realized it wasn't an insect — it was about three inches of standing water on the floor of her fourth-floor North Quad dorm room. A water pipe had broken at around 10:30 a.m., sending water flowing into her hall, down stair cases and flooding common areas, classrooms and computer rooms filled with expensive equipment.
"I was like 'Why is everything floating around,' she recalls "Then after that, I started hearing sounds, like people shouting."
At least 96 students that live on the third and fourth floors of North Quad are displaced, with their rooms damaged from the flowing water. Some will be staying in hotels and open dorm rooms, while others will stay with friends. Classes normally held at North Quad were canceled Thursday. Students can check online for information about room closures.
According to Peter Logan, director of communications for U-M Housing, a broken 3-inch coupling on a water line that services the fire suppression system caused the flooding to a wing of North Quad that includes study areas, classrooms and a residence hall.
North Quad's third-floor study room, computer lab and technology-equipped classroom were all damaged when the water flooding the fourth floor seeped through the floors.
"The water was coming through the ceiling. It looked like it was raining," recalled Libby O'Connell, who lives on the eighth floor of North Quad.
O'Connell recalls seeing students ankle-deep, "trudging through the water" on North Quad's fourth floor.
"People were panicking. Some people were really angry," Yew said. "Some of them were actually out at classes, they had their electronics on the floor. Some when they came back and saw [the water damage] they were so mad."
North Quad opened in 2010 and cost the university $175 million to build. It's the main building used by U-M's School of Information, whose dean sent a school-wide email Thursday warning students and staff that the academic areas of the building might be closed for several months due to damage.
Molly Vandanverg was studying in a common area of North Quad's eighth-floor residential area when she heard a police officer's radio go off.
"We heard him running down the hallway," she recalled. "We didn't really know what was going on."
Vandanverg would soon find the lower floors of North Quad had experienced heavy flooding. She left her wing of the building to go to North Quad's dining hall before she saw signs of flooding.
"There was water everywhere," she said. "I tried to go back up and get my materials for class and the entire building was closed off."
By mid-afternoon students living on the fifth floor and higher were allowed re-entry.