For Founders, Jan. 13 was more than the first day of second semester. Gracewell, a hall on the third floor of the Rayburn wing, experienced a fair amount of chaos when a seemingly harmless toilet rapidly flooded an entire restroom, part of the hallway, and also the adjacent restroom at approximately 7:55 p.m. The frigid water poured against the floor vigorously, rising several inches above the ground for nearly thirty minutes. Thick towels were rolled quickly, precisely pressed between the two restrooms as a barricade until the water was stopped.
Founders' Resident Director, Kevin McAlvey, stated, "We turned the water off today, but for some reason when we turned it back on, that toilet kept running.” McAlvey then added, “In an attempt to fix the running, it got worse."
And indeed it did. "Gracewellians" first noticed the surge when the sound of flowing water exceeded music, laughter, or studying. Junior Amy Dewaal immediately knew something was out of place. "I was sitting at my computer and came to investigate. Then I notified the hall." While some of Amy's roommates joked that she was overreacting, they soon realized that an ever-present torrent was worsening. Elizabeth Liuzzi, a freshman, kept a hasty situation lighthearted by joking "I thought I was going to die a lonely death in the bathroom!"
He asked residents to grab towels from the supply closet, to which several girls promptly responded. Junior Kelly Gatewood built a towel dam between the two flooding restrooms while her roommate, Tabitha Huteson, helped stop further damage on carpets by forcing water toward the drains in the other restroom with a broom.
Other students acted as first-responders, too. Margaret Fitch, a freshman, put on rainboots and poured buckets of water into drains as the toilet spewed everywhere. Despite a sprained ankle, Fitch worked valiantly to prevent flooding, although she was nervous that she would get trapped inside the restroom as the water rose. "I was worried we could get stuck," she states, "until I realized that the door opens from the outside." Almost all of Gracewell united to keep water at bay. In fact, most of the girls were amused by the unlikely odds of an "exploding" toilet at the start of Spring semester and treated it as a bonding experience.
Gracewell was not the only victim left in the toilet’s wake. Blackwatch, a men's hall beneath Gracewell, experienced leakage extending several rooms down on either side of their restroom. Calvin Cummings, their Resident Assistant, visited Gracewell to investigate the strange incidents occurring on Blackwatch. Not only did water leak through their ceiling, becoming soaked, but parts of it crumbled and collapsed.
To fix the near disaster, McAlvey managed to get the water to the entire building off at 8:55 p.m. The college’s maintenance crew brought two large fans to aid the carpet’s drying process and prevent mold.