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Sleeping areas turned into swimming pools in Ponder hall

Tyson Jennings
The destruction pictured is a result of one of the pipe malfunctions within Ponder.

It was 15 minutes until 4 a.m. Ponder’s halls are empty, but suddenly they’re filled with dreary, drowsy students departing in a post-sleep delirium line down the stairs. There’s an overpowering groan from all students as they step outside into the night’s cold air and gentle breeze. Students mumble and converse with their friends, their roommates and the resident assistants on their floors. 

There’s been a fire alarm but no-one is aware of the source. Ponder Hall is no stranger to someone forgetting their pizza in the oven or a student casually blazing it up in their suite thinking nothing bad could happen. These sorts of things are commonplace in the dorms, after all. This event was different, though. There were people truly affected, driven from their rooms and displaced amongst the water creeping under their door.

“Just before 4 a.m. on Friday, November 3, a hot water supply line above a bathroom ceiling in a Ponder Hall suite separated at a joint and came completely apart. The hot water being discharged in the building created a large amount of steam quickly which activated the fire alarms,” said Vollie Barnwell, assistant vice chancellor of student affairs. 

The water to Ponder hall was briefly turned off, after the arrival of University Police and the Asheville Fire Department, allowing the proper repair and replacement of the affected piping. 

“No one was hurt from the pipe bursting and no one got stuck in their rooms,” said Adam Crane, resident assistant with Housing and Residence Life.

Once the water was turned off, staff from across the UNC Asheville campus was working diligently to return the state of the suites within the hall to an acceptable, clean and dry living area. Students were offered the choice to relocate, if their room wasn’t an immediate danger. 

By 6 a.m. water had been fully restored throughout Ponder Hall. By 9 a.m. all students who we were aware of that had indicated a desire to relocate had started or completed the relocation process,” Barnwell said.

Students congregate in the corners of Ponder’s downstairs lobby area to converse with their friends. (Cody Ferguson)

Crane said that any student affected was offered compensation for any damages occurred during this incident. He didn’t have any personal property damaged, however. 

“There were 10 Ponder suites that were impacted directly by water damage. 4 of these suites had heavy damage, 2 have moderate damage, and 4 have minimal damage. Most students who chose to relocate, were able to stay in Ponder Hall,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell said they had a goal of returning all residents to their original rooms by Tuesday, November 7. Students were unhappy with the event, but they were glad to be communicated to and accommodated by the staff with Housing and Residence Life. 

“I was actually surprisingly calm during the event thanks to the numerous members of the housing team who assisted with the situation,” Crane said.

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