Water main break floods parts of BYU campus

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PROVO -- A break in a main water line caused serious flooding on parts of the BYU campus Wednesday.

BYU officials say a construction crew punctured the 20-inch water main around 2:15 p.m. and the water wasn't shut off until 4 p.m. Crews are now working to get the residual water pumped out of the affected area.

The massive release of water -- tens of thousands of gallons -- caused serious flooding at Heritage Halls on-campus housing, near the BYU law school.

Lt. Arnold Lemmon said 10 apartments in 10 of the 24 buildings have been affected with anywhere between an inch to a foot of water.

Freshman Parker Gibbs lives in one of the flooded basement apartments and says the damage is surprisingly mild.

"My room is surprisingly dry," he said. "There's a little bit that leaked under the door, but aside from that, it's pretty dry."

First hand account of flooding
"A little before 2:00 pm we were playing a card game with some friends when we saw brown water streaming in from the windows. At first we thought it was a prank, but then we went outside and saw the river of water flowing down through Heritage Halls. We ran back to pick up all of our things from the floor. A few minutes later water was pouring into the rooms from all the windows and the water level was about 2 or 3 inches..." CLICK to read more

Gibbs says he got a look at some first-floor apartments. He says crews used couches to help block some of the water and it appeared to be helpful, but all the carpet will likely have to be replaced.

"They used couches and towels to keep it from flooding too bad," he said. "I haven't been in any of the other rooms, but I assume it's just as bad with all the water standing there."

The students are gone because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Lemmon said the apartments will have to be inspected for structural damage, but that it doesn't appear to be an issue at this point.

"Thankfully this occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday and so most of our students are out of the residential hall," said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. "We do have less than a handful. They are being relocated."

BYU officials e-mailed information to the students who live in the affected units about who to contact to check their belongings and what to do next.

Officials are assessing the damage by remain optimistic that by the time students return, everything will have dried out and they will have made most of the major repairs. If not, they'll have the students relocate.

It is unclear if the water line belongs to BYU or to Provo City.


Story compiled with contributions from Sam Penrod and Sarah Dallof.


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