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A flood in the Quadrangle earlier this week has left over 50 students wishing they had a life preserver to rescue them during this stressful finals period.

The flood started Monday evening on the fourth floor of McIlhenny Hall in Spruce College House, and while the fourth floor was affected the most, each floor below was also damaged.

Spruce House Dean Marilynne Diggs-Thompson said that 22 students have moved, but that a total of 50 rooms were affected by the flood. Students have been provided with housing at Sansom East, the Sheraton University City or with friends.

Residents were first alerted of the problem at about 6:45 p.m. when the fire alarms sounded. The house was evacuated until the source of the problem -- water gushing from Room 413's ceiling -- was found.

"Water was piling up," Diggs-Thompson said. "My concern was with things that might be plugged in."

House officials called the fire department, and residents in the rest of Spruce were allowed to return to their rooms. Officials turned off the water to the area, and McIlhenny residents were permitted to return once the area was deemed safe.

But residents in the 12 rooms that suffered the most damage have been forced to seek temporary housing until the rooms can be repaired.

Wharton freshman Lindsey Tarman lives on the fourth floor of McIlhenny, but, thanks to a late class and work, did not see the damage to her room until about 9 p.m. that night.

She said the wood flooring had buckled, her rug was ruined and swollen paneling had caused her door to stick. Her computer should be fine, however.

"It wasn't as bad as the other rooms, but it was bad," she said. She has been moved to a room in the Sheraton.

Flooring needs to be replaced in roughly 10 of the rooms, Diggs-Thompson said, and repairs are slated to begin on Dec. 22 and continue over break so that the rooms will be ready when students return for the spring semester.

Diggs-Thompson speculated that frozen pipes caused the flood.

For the students, the flood's timing could not have been worse. Diggs-Thompson said many were unwilling to leave their rooms because they feared losing work on their computers or having papers and books damaged.

Tarman noted the added stress. "I'm staying at a hotel, which is fine, but I can't have my computer, so I go back and forth between doing papers."

A network of Information Technology Advisers, both from Spruce and other college houses, has been helping students to recover lost data. The Office of the Vice Provost for University Life has also been notified in case the affected students have trouble with finals or assignment extensions.

Shortly after the flood broke out, house staff also set up a command center where residents could come for help with housing and clothing, and since then, a special hotline and listserv have been set up for student inquiries about everything from housing to insurance claims.

Facilities officials were unable to be reached for comment.

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