Shortly after returning from fall break, freshmen girls living in Gunn Henderson were flushed out of their rooms when a plumbing issue led to severe flooding.
Caused by an excess of flushed feminine products and hair blocking a drain, the flooding began Oct. 22 in a first floor bathroom and eventually spread through the entire building.
First floor residents were forced to evacuate for approximately a week, while second floor residents were given the option to leave. Water for the entire building was shut down while maintenance crews worked to resolve the issue.
According to Oklahoma Christian University Resident Director Mackenna King, by Oct. 24 the situation had intensified, causing the administration to step in and provide aid for the affected girls.
“The problems started, I would say, midnight Monday night,” King said. “We evacuated the whole first floor, just in case. We didn’t want anyone trapped in their room if the flood did get worse—that was Wednesday night. All of Student Life was here and President deSteiguer and Neil Arter were here. They were all going around the halls with me helping girls who might have water damage put all their stuff on the beds.”
According to King, administrators acted directly to ensure the girls had accommodations while the maintenance staff addressed the plumbing blockages. King said she was impressed by the prompt response to the problem and the staff’s willingness to help place the girls in other housing arrangements.
“It was pretty immediate,” King said. “I think somebody told our assistant director about it, and they called the maintenance on-call. They were here quickly and stayed from 1 a.m. to all day on Tuesday until they got it fixed. Dean Arter was contacting us, making sure everything was alright—but then it happened again. They helped us find rooms in Tinius and Davisson—that was where most of the girls went. They stationed people in the lobby to make sure all the girls leaving had a place to stay. They were very helpful with all of that.”
Although the flooding began on Wednesday, several freshmen girls said they began to notice slow drainage and pressure problems in the bathrooms a week prior. Freshman Jackie Kim said she occasionally had to take showers in Tinius, the sophomore dorm hall, leading up to the flooding.
“We started noticing it about a week before it actually started flooding, so we off-and-on had to go to our friends in Tinius to take showers,” Kim said. “It was Wednesday when it got bad enough where everyone on the first floor had to leave. The first night, I ended up staying at my friend’s family member’s house and then the rest of the five or six days I had to stay in Tinius.”
The maintenance staff is still working to replace damaged carpeting in Gunn Henderson, while also ensuring the blockages are completely removed from the plumbing system. King said while some students and parents questioned the administration’s reaction, she was grateful for their fast-thinking and help in solving the problem.
“I did get a couple phone calls from parents that were concerned we weren’t prepared for something like this, but I think they were prepared for backup issues—no one could look forward and see how many times it would be clogged,” King said. “They had a fast response and were very helpful. I wouldn’t have known what to do if I was alone. They helped me out a lot and we were going off of each other for ideas on what to do.”
Freshman Allie Scott said Gunn Henderson’s staff made the potentially chaotic experience easier for her by checking on the girls daily to see if they were taken care of.
“They were really nice,” Scott said. “They provided breakfast for us one morning and every day they were checking in on us, making sure we were able to get to our classes and weren’t falling behind because of this, so that was really nice. The RA’s and everyone were really helpful in making sure we were taken care of.”
King said she was thankful for how the affected girls helped each other amidst the difficult situation and praised Gunn Henderson’s staff and Oklahoma Christian’s maintenance crew for their hard work.
“The girls took it in stride,” King said. “They were very quick to know it was a situation that affected everyone, not just them, so they were helpful in offering their own homes if they lived close by. They went door-to-door telling the girls they had space for them and I thought they handled it very well.
I also thought my staff handled it well—staying up with maintenance until about 5:30 a.m. just to make sure everything would be alright. I want to give a big round of applause to the maintenance crew. They’ve been working hard for a whole week, even staying into the night to fix things. We all really appreciate them.”