Butterfield B flooded on Monday, Jan. 23 due to a broken toilet flushometer on the third floor, affecting 38 students in approximately 30 rooms and resulting in the temporary relocation of 18 students.
This flood marks the third time the Butterfields have flooded in five years. The first was caused by a student setting off the sprinkler system, and the second was due to heavy rain during Hurricane Ida. In both cases, students were forced to evacuate; however, only the most recent two floods required students to spend the night outside their rooms.
An emergency team consisting of Physical Plant and outside contractors responded to the flood around midnight by beginning water extraction, damage assessment, and cleaning of impacted areas. Fans and dehumidifiers were brought to dry the dorm until readings of moisture levels had returned to normal, which, for some students’ rooms, occurred during the night of Wednesday, Jan. 24. For many others, this was on Thursday, Jan. 25., and two rooms continued to dry until Friday, Jan. 26.
Since this most recent flood occurred on the day housing opened for the Spring 2023 semester, many students had not yet returned to campus. All residents of Butterfield B were notified of the flood via an email from Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Maureen Isleib on the night of Monday, Jan. 23.
“For those of you currently on campus, you are likely already aware of flooding in the building caused by a broken toilet flush valve in the 3rd floor bathroom,” Isleib wrote. “Fortunately Physical Plant was able to respond quickly and we have a contractor coming to campus tonight to begin the clean-up process…. Our Physical Plant team will be working through the night with contractors to begin the restoration process.”
Izzy Bailey ’25, a resident of Butterfield B who was not on campus at the time, expressed feeling scared by the possible extent of the flood damages, especially the uncertainty of whether her personal belongings had been damaged.
“I got the email that Butts was flooded, [and] actually cried in my car,” Bailey said. “I was really scared because the emails were very vague…. Honestly [the vagueness] alarmed me more…. I was very stressed. It’s very unsettling to walk in after break and try to start a new semester [when] my room is just a mess. But it was okay. I was one of the lucky ones. The third floor [was] not bad.”
Butterfield B resident Sam DeLeo ’25 was on campus the night of the flood. She initially thought the water leaking into her room was rain seeping in through the window. As more water entered the room, it became harder for her to keep her belongings safe from the flooding.
“I called PSafe and they asked me if my window was open, to which I obviously said no but they said they would try to send someone,” DeLeo wrote in a message to The Argus. “I was really stressed just because at this point it seemed like no one was coming to help, and water started coming out of the floor in three corners of my room, one of them being…where I had been putting all my stuff to avoid water.”
A Resident Advisor (RA) in Butterfield B who wishes to remain anonymous explained that DeLeo was not the only person to call for help.
“From what I’ve heard a student had accidentally broken the handle of a toilet on the third floor around 7:30pm and had called it into physical plant,” the RA wrote in a message to The Argus. “In complete honesty, if Physical Plant had showed up any earlier or PSafe had expressed the urgency necessary, not as many student[s] [may] have been impacted. Or maybe the entire situation could have been avoided.”
Though rooms were impacted to different degrees, all students were evacuated due to the possibility of contaminants in the water. Only those with severe damage to their rooms were relocated overnight. Some chose to stay with friends who were on campus, while others were placed in emergency housing.
“I ended up being relocated to the Nics for two days,” Butterfield B resident Brianna Mark ’24 wrote in a message to The Argus. “During those two days, I was only allowed in my room from 8pm to 11pm for a few minutes to grab essentials. I took lots of my belongings home over break and my family helped move everything into the Nics temporarily, so it was a bit annoying to move everything back to the Butts.”
The flood impacted the first, second, and third floors of Butterfield B to varying degrees, with several students’ rugs, posters, shoes, and other personal belongings experiencing damage.
“Since I am on the second floor, we were evacuated fairly quickly and told to bring stuff with us,” DeLeo wrote. “I had to throw out my rug, a fan, a pair of shoes, my towels, and a phone charger or two, but the damage would have been so much worse had I not been there, so I’m happy about that.”
Mark explained that, more than the damage, the anxiety of not knowing whether or not her belongings were destroyed before she got to campus caused her stress.
“I was quite worried that there was a chance the belongings I left in my room over break, such as my refrigerator, microwave, and bean bag chair, would all be damaged, especially because I found out my room was directly below the bathroom that flooded,” Mark wrote. “I was definitely very happy to find out that none of my belongings were really damaged.”
Unfortunately for students whose rooms sustained more intense flooding, the University does not reimburse for damages to personal belongings. In case of emergencies like floods, Islieb advised that students purchase renter’s insurance to protect their belongings.
“Upon moving into campus housing, all students were strongly encouraged to purchase student renter’s insurance,” Islieb wrote in an email to The Argus. “Some students may also be covered by their family’s homeowner or renter insurance policy.”
Despite her stress while waiting to discover the status of her room, Mark ultimately expressed satisfaction with the way the University handled the flood.
“Overall, I do think the school responded to the situation pretty well,” Mark wrote. “They took immediate action to enter the rooms that were affected and move all personal belongings [off] the floors. There were massive fans when I arrived in the hallways and in the rooms that dried all visible water relatively quickly.”
Bailey expressed similar feelings about the situation.
“I felt like it was handled pretty well,” Bailey said. “[Islieb] was pretty helpful sending us updates…. In terms of the third floor, I think they got the water out very fast…. All in all, it’s fine. It’s just a missing rug and an emotional roller coaster of crying in my car. But other than that it was great.”
Kat Struhar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.