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Water line break in residence hall sent students scrambling
Dec 26, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Finals week was particularly stressful this year for students living in Mote Hall at Central Wyoming College.
A water line burst the evening Dec. 15 at the residence hall, sending a stream of liquid flowing through part of the building's first floor.
"It was spraying quite a bit of water," housing maintenance technician Hunter Roseberry said. "It's a three-inch fire suppression line, (and) it was cracked open about a half inch."
The leak directly impacted about nine students, who quickly removed their belongings from the building when water began to fall at about 5 p.m. Sunday.
But Steve Barlow, CWC's assistant dean of student services, said it was too late to save everything in the hall.
"We've lost a few computers and laptops (due to) water damage," he said. "And it was finals week, so it's a stressor on our students they didn't need. But faculty and staff have pulled together."
Counselors offered services to students who are especially distraught about the incident, while other employees at CWC have organized a fund to replace ruined equipment. Barlow said instructors are
accommodating students who lost assignments or other work in the flood.
"We're working with each student individually," Barlow said. "Something happened that we couldn't control, nor could the kids."
He added that the water line break had nothing to do with new construction elsewhere on campus. In fact, Barlow said the accident impacted fewer students due to recent upgrades to apartments at CWC.
"Forty-eight kids can live in Mote, but we only had 29 in there because of the remodels," Barlow said. "Kids love the newly remodeled apartments, (and) some kids have already moved over, so we weren't at full capacity, which was good."
The group was relocated to other rooms on campus, though Barlow said several students are staying with family in Riverton.
The college is now on its winter break, so further cleanup and repairs can be done without interfering with student life.
Roseberry said fire crews were called to campus the minute the fire suppression line lost pressure that night, which was a Sunday.
"They were out as soon as they got that call, and the fire department shut (the water line) down shortly after (they) acknowledged there wasn't a fire," he said. "A crew of people was already sweeping the water out when I got there."R32;Emergency responders evacuated everyone from the building and set to work cleaning up the mess. Some sheet rock was physically damaged during the incident, but Roseberry said everything else in Mote will be salvageable.
He's not sure what caused the leak, which took place on a mild day in a heated room.
"There's no reason to think it would've frozen," he said of the water line. "We have the fire suppression contractors coming out to repair it, and they may be able to give us a more definitive answer."
He said the problem may have involved a backflow prevention device that was installed inside of the water line.
"It prevents fire suppression water from going back into the city supply," Roseberry explained. "I'm not sure what happened there, but anyways there's a replacement part."
He believes Mote Hall will be livable by the time students return to campus in January. Water extractors have been in place on the floor since the leak, and workers from the remediation company have added their own dehumidifiers to the mix.
"It's pretty dry as it is now," Roseberry said. "We're sucking everything out that we can."