A hot water heater burst in the Wilton Center Tuesday evening, flooding much of the building and forcing various student groups to relocate.

“It was a lot of water, I saw the janitors and maintenance staff pushing the water out the side door,” said Holden Powers, a sophomore attending the Hillel ice cream social hosted in the Wilton Center that night.

The flooding began between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. while three student groups were meeting, said Bryn Taylor, director of Spiritual Formation at the Wilton Center. Of the events scheduled for Tuesday night were an ice cream social hosted by Hillel, an organization that fosters community for Jewish students on campus, and one hosted by Kairos, a weekly Christian service that gives students a place to reflect on different questions. The Multifaith Student Council’s weekly dinner and discussion was also meeting in the building at the time. The Council's dinner was ending when participants received news of the flooding.

“The photographer, taking pictures for the chaplaincy website, showed an expression of concern, which I initially associated with someone failing to sign the photo release form...then I saw the water quickly infringing upon the gray carpet,” said Liz Nigro, a senior and a leader for the Multifaith group. “We took a final picture as a group for the website and then left the room so quickly that we didn't even put away the food."

The ice cream socials for both Hillel and Kairos were moved to the back patio of the Wilton Center.

“The board of Hillel was there early meeting to go over plans for the semester when we were warned about the flooding,” sophomore Jimmy Bernstein said. “At first we were a little worried on where we would hold the event but it all worked out.”

The flooding remains a challenge for scheduled events in the Wilton Center.

“For future meetings, we’re still trying to determine beyond this week, but for this week we’ve relocated all of the meetings out of the building,” Taylor said. Because of the weather and nature of the ice cream social events, the back patio was a convenient solution, but future meetings may have to meet in other buildings, Taylor said.

Rob Hodous, who works for Intervarsity in the chaplaincy, expressed his gratitude for the events staff in effectively moving two of his meetings that were displaced by the flooding.

“I got a new room before I even knew there was a problem,” he said.

The flooding in the Wilton Center follows an outbreak of bedbugs in Wood Hall last week and flooding in Modlin Center for the Arts last September.

Contact news writer Kay Dervishi at kay.dervishi@richmond.edu

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