Floodwater poured into basements and elevators after a wave of thunderstorms and heavy rain flooded several residence halls and academic buildings Thursday.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said standing water was present in nearly every building that had a basement in Foggy Bottom due to rain that poured down more quickly than the city’s infrastructure could drain it. Students and officials said minor flooding occurred in residence halls, either in the basement or the top floor through roof leaks.
Flooding was reported in buildings and on highways throughout the DMV area, as intense rain bore down on the region for much of the afternoon.
“The majority of our buildings on the Foggy Bottom campus with basements were at least impacted with some level of standing water due to the rain,” Nosal said in an email. “We were also called to a few buildings with roof leaks.”
The flooding comes after a recent spate of evacuations and mold and water leak concerns that have caused worries about building conditions throughout campus. Officials said a broken pipe in International House caused leaks and water damage that required the replacement of a piece of flooring late last month, and several students reported leaks in their rooms that potentially contributed to mold growth.
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Nosal said officials relocated residents in three rooms due to a water leak Thursday.
She said officials observed ceiling and wall damage in “some cases,” and the cleaning and repairs that weren’t already finished would continue into the weekend. She declined to say which buildings were flooded or had water leaks.
“Safety and Facilities sent assessment teams out on campus to identify areas that needed water extraction and/or cleaning,” she said. “Depending on the extent of the damage, minor issues were addressed immediately by in-house personnel, and more complicated incidents were addressed by an external remediation company.”
A small electrical box a few feet away from JBKO Hall was sparking and smoking during the heavy rain at about 5:30 p.m., which Nosal attributed to water infiltration that caused it to arc, which is the uncontrolled discharge of electrical currents that can create light and heat.
“If anyone ever sees an arcing electrical box they should immediately move a safe distance away and immediately call GWPD if you are on campus, or 911 if you are off campus so the appropriate personnel can respond and render the device safe,” she said. “Please NEVER approach an electrical device acting in such a manner with standing water nearby.”
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Common areas in the basement of JBKO, like the TV lounge and laundry room, were nearly completely covered in about an inch of water carrying dirt and small debris. Jordan Freij, a freshman living in JBKO, said when he took the elevator down to the basement while it was flooded, water rushed into the elevator’s shaft right as the doors opened.
“Once we went down to the basement, the second the elevator door opened, water began flooding into the elevator,” he said.
He said the building’s community coordinator instructed him not to go to the basement or “cause hysteria” over the flooding downstairs. A truck from a local water damage restoration company, A-1 Flood Tech, arrived at JBKO just before 6 p.m.
Water leaked from the ceiling of the eighth floor in Fulbright Hall, and the basement of the building also flooded throughout. Shallow floodwaters were visible in the basement of Munson Hall.
Isha Trivedi, Lauren Sforza, Michelle Vassilev and Nicholas Anastacio contributed reporting.