By Irene Rotondo
“Everybody’s gotta get out of the building! Get out, get out!!”
With a toothbrush in hand, pajama-clad junior Chase Parrott was almost ready for bed when he heard shouts and thuds in the hallway on the fourth floor of Alumni Hall around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night. His RA was going door to door, waking students and ordering them to leave immediately.
The RA was urgent, but Parrott didn’t know why they had to leave until he got a text from a friend. “There was a pipe leak,” the text read, “you have to get out of the building.”
Alumni Hall residents received an email from Graduate Community Director Laurel Mahler at 11:16 p.m. stating that, “…due to flooding in the basement, all residents need to evacuate the building immediately.”
Interim Chief of Police Joseph Tiraboschi and Facilities Director Kevin Roy communicated at 12:15 a.m. Monday morning by email to the campus community that Public Safety had been notified of a “water main break at Alumni Hall” at approximately 10:30 p.m.
Public Safety immediately contacted Facilities, and the departments had been working together to “isolate the water to the exterior of the building.” They also stated Residence Life was working to relocate students, and all community members should avoid the “main campus road” and Alumni Hall until further notice.
“I walked out of the building and there was a whole group outside, a lot of the kids that lived in Alumni,” said Parrott.
“The police officer was like, ‘I know we just told you guys to get out, but we really don’t know how long this is going to take, so we advise you grab your stuff for the night,’ and nobody really knew what that meant, because we didn’t know if that meant we were coming back in two hours or if we weren’t going to sleep there tonight.”
The students were then allowed back into the dorm for a quick collection of their possessions. Parrott grabbed the items he needed for school the next day and headed out — luckily, he had a friend in the Living Center who was still awake, and they opened their suite to Parrott.
BREAKING: Alumni Hall residents have been told to evacuate the building immediately. Emails from Public Safety and Residence Life below: pic.twitter.com/y84p0PGft3
— Springfield Student (@TheSpfldStudent) March 7, 2022
Not all students were as lucky, though — or at least, not at first.
Sophomore Alumni Hall roommates Celia Fogarty and Jenna Lagana weren’t in their room when they got texts from their RA around 11:00 p.m. telling them to evacuate. Fogarty was heading back to campus from work and frantically began calling friends for a place to stay, while Lagana watched the news unfold with her boyfriend and his friends in Abbey-Appleton Hall.
When she got back to campus, Fogarty had arranged to stay with a friend — except all she had were her work clothes on her back and wallet in hand. Fogarty headed back to Alumni, where she discovered her key card access had been shut off.
“Fortunately, one of the guys working on the pipes let me in, so I could grab some of my stuff for classes, but if I wasn’t able to do that, all I had were my work clothes, and nothing else,” Fogarty recalled.
“I got the text from my RA and I was just confused,” said Lagana. “I ended up DMing her separately and just being like, ‘What’s going on, can I come back to Alumni?’ and basically she said, ‘No.’” Lagana’s RA informed her that she should stay in the Union “until further notice.”
“I was already at Abbey, but if I didn’t have somewhere to go, I probably would have been lost, just stood around outside,” Lagana added.
Lagana said that while the events were unfolding, she saw other fellow Alumni residents filing into Abbey to stay with friends — even members of the football team, who had their required team lift at 6:00 a.m. that morning.
Alumni Hall residents were finally informed at 1:15 a.m. by an email from Residence Life that if they hadn’t already arranged for a place to stay with a friend, they could come to the base floor of the Union by 1:30 a.m. and would be given keys to an empty room in Lakeside Hall.
With the initial notification of evacuation coming at approximately 11:00 – 11:30 p.m., students had been left in limbo for two hours while Residence Life scrambled to relocate the over-300-person population. The Student reached out to the Administration, Public Safety, and Facilities for comment but had not heard back by the time this article was published.
Robert Yanez, Director of Residence Life, stated that student safety was Public Safety, Residence Life, and Facilities’ primary concern. He said they were evacuated because there was no water access including sinks, toilets, showers, and laundry facilities.
At 6:50 a.m., students were told they could return to their rooms after the three groups worked overnight to make Alumni Hall safe again.
“Facilities staff, Residence Life staff and Public Safety staff all worked through the night to accommodate students, manage a potentially unsafe area and call for clean-up and water removal services,” Yanez stated.
“They should have told us where to go as soon as they evacuated the building because we were kind of just kicked to the streets,” Fogarty laughed half-heartedly.
“How were we expected to go to classes the next day if we couldn’t get our stuff?” Lagana questioned.
Currently, students are mostly concerned about their laundry. With the basement blocked off and no definite timeline to when those facilities would be open again, Alumni residents have key card access to the laundry rooms in Massasoit, Abbey-Appleton, Reed, and International Halls.
Photo: Springfield College