500 USD Students Forced to Leave Dorm After Water Pipe Breaks

(VERMILLION, SD) 500 students at the University of South Dakota had to find another place to sleep overnight.

That's because a water pipe broke, flooding parts of the dorm floor and shorting out electricity and heat, Monday, January 22, 2013. All this came on one of the coldest nights we've seen this winter.

You could call it a chain reaction after a water pipe burst.

"When that water came down and hit the electrical wiring and stuff, it actually shorted out the fire alarm and that made the fire alarm go off. We didn't do that on purpose," says Tina Haraldson, the Marketing Communications Director at the University of South Dakota.

Students here thought it was just a fire drill but shortly after they were all evacuated. Cold temperatures forced college officials to move students into the DakotaDome and the student center ballroom.

Back at Coyote Village, about an inch of water flooded parts of the first floor and lobby.

"They were right on it, people were there when it started leaking so, they were already mopping it up," says Haraldson. "So, its not like there was a huge amount of water damage."

Still, the heat and electricity were shot, so USD officials scrambled to find hotel rooms for more than 160 students who didn't have a place to go. Students picked up their things Tuesday morning, and then headed back to the hotel for another night.

"We were back and forth about 4 times today. Its like we have to deal with it, and at least they're giving us housing," says Charles Gageby, a student at USD who lives on the second floor of Coyote Village.

Victoria Young says many times students ignore the alarms, but this wasn't a drill.

"Fire alarms are there for a reason, and we should evacuate the building whenever there is one, regardless of what we think is happening," says Victoria Young, a student at USD who lives on the second floor of Coyote Village.

College officials hope they can get these dorm rooms open by Wednesday but until then, students will be staying in local hotels until its safe to return.

The school is waiting on the appropriate parts to fix the electricity and heat. And, as a reminder, classes are not canceled but professors will be more lenient when it comes to tardiness.