‘I thought I was going to die’: Over 300 students evacuated from Leeds halls after flood

Floors flooded at 3am after a pipe burst

Students at The Plaza accommodation were evacuated from their halls last night after they were told a burst pipe was flooding the building causing mass panic among residents. According to one student, eight of the twelve floors in the building were affected.

Water could be seen pouring from cupboards into the hallways and kitchens of students and even from their ceilings. The flooding comes at a crucial time for the students, as a lot of them have final exams and deadlines due very soon.

Molly Hare, a first year resident at The Plaza, said: "It’s honestly really stressful not knowing where you’re going to be living each night, let alone trying to revise or write essays."

Some feared for their lives; Beckett student and Plaza resident Neve Anderson said: "At first I thought it was a fire, people were screaming 'everyone get out now', I thought I was going to die".

Luckily the security team responded quickly, evacuating residents out of the building and into Leeds Beckett's Rose Bowl. The company that owns the accommodation building, Unite Group, are working with the university to find alternative temporary accommodation for displaced students.

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Rose Bowl was packed with Plaza residents

However, some students aren't happy with the way things are being handled. Speaking to The Tab Leeds, Ian Robinson said: "We've been in the Rose Bowl for six hours, and I've only just been given a place to stay. Apparently some people are being send out of Leeds because all the hotels are booked." Reportedly some students are being taken as far away as Doncaster due to the lack of space, or placed in other student accommodation in Leeds whilst repairs take place.

Georgia, a resident at The Plaza, said that "it didn't feel safe to stay in the building" whilst the flooding was happening. She also had to go to A&E with her flatmate who injured herself during the evacuation. She continues: "I was tired and annoyed that I didn't have a full understanding of the situation. We were just told that we had to leave."

Students pay a minimum of £146 a week to live at The Plaza, with prices rising as high as £210 for a studio, yet this isn't the first time this has happened. The accommodation flooded recently, and last year too when students were evacuated for a week in February 2017 due to flooding.

The handling of the situation isn't good enough for a lot of residents however. Molly told The Tab: "It’s been really stressful because this is the second flood in two weeks so we’ve already had a week of moving between hotels before this flood.

"The staff have been very badly organised; we were woken up at 6am on Wednesday morning and just instructed to pack a bag and leave in two hours; no say on where we’d be going or for how long. We’ve now been put in a hotel in Bradford, with some of us going as far as Huddersfield and Doncaster too.

"Buses were supposed to be hired by Unite to take us back to Leeds today but none of them have turned up and we’re expected to spend our own money on trains and food, despite still not having been reimbursed for the first week’s expenses. We really expected a lot higher standard of care considering how much rent we pay to Unite".

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Residents filmed water streaming down the stairwell

Jordan, a student affected by flooding in The Plaza last year, feels like the situation from last year shouldn't have been allowed to happen again: "It's sloppy management, so incompetent."

Students have reportedly been promised a refund of their rent for the time they're displaced by Unite, plus a food allowance during their time in alternative accommodation. Students were told that they wouldn't be able to move in for about a week, although it could be longer.

A Unite spokesperson told us: "In the early hours of yesterday morning we were alerted to a burst pipe at our Plaza property in Leeds, which has affected some areas of the building. We evacuated the flooded areas and colleagues looked after those students while we arranged alternative accommodation. All students have now been found alternative accommodation in Leeds.

"Unite treats the safety and security of our students with the utmost importance and we are very sorry this issue has impacted on our customers. We are working closely with our university partners and are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

A Leeds Beckett spokesperson said: "All affected students are currently being catered for in our food courts free of charge and additional welfare support is being offered through our student hub."