More than 200 terrified students at Leeds Beckett University were evacuated from their city centre accommodation on Sunday night after water “gushed” from the ceiling and flooded their rooms for a second time.
Business student Marisa Hyland described how she feared for her safety when her flat at The Plaza, near Leeds Arena, started to slowly fill with water.
Marisa, 19, from Coventry, said: “I was about to leave for the cinema with friends and all the water just started gushing from the ceiling through the lights and I didn’t feel safe at all.
“It happened about 7.30pm and we were kept in the building for about an hour-and-a-half because no staff were there and maintenance men didn’t tell us what to do.
“We were panicking because of the water coming through the lifts and the fact our flats were slowly flooding and being ruined and there was nothing we could do to save our things.”
Marisa said she was then forced to wait more than four hours to check into a nearby hotel at around 1am, only to stay there for one night and check out the next day.
She said: “I’ve been in three hotels and I’ve been out of pocket because I’ve needed to get taxis to uni and to work as they are quite far out.”
Marisa’s worried father Mark is calling for student accommodation company Unite, which owns the flats, to guarantee his daughter’s safety and ensure that it won’t happen again.
He said: “This is the second time since September this has happened due to a water leak and it’s not good enough.
“It’s frustrating and worrying when you daughter is on the phone crying and upset.
“As parents we need to know our children are safe.”
Mr Hyland said he had been told by Unite that it was unlikely the students would be able to return to the £540 a month accommodation until Monday.
A spokesman from Unite said the company wishes to “sincerely apologise” to students at The Plaza for the inconvenience caused and any distress experienced during the evacuation.
He said: “Following an incident of water leakage on Sunday evening, 210 students were evacuated from eight floors of a block of The Plaza building in Leeds, in line with our planned evacuation process.
“All evacuated students were accounted for and transported to accommodation in nearby hotels.
“Since the incident, we have done everything we can to ensure that the incident does not impact students’ studies and student life. We have provided students with hotel accommodation in the city, along with all meals, and transport to university campuses, as well as daily updates and additional advice and guidance on the support services available to them. We have also set up system to ensure that no student is left out-of-pocket or with cash-flow issues as a consequence of the incident.”
The spokesman said technicians had traced the cause of the water leak to an issue with a faulty pressure value and Unite was confident the issue had been rectified to ensure that it won’t happen again.
He said: “Work to rectify the damage to student apartments and common areas has continued throughout the week with a view to allowing students to return to their accommodation as soon as possible.
“We anticipate this will be in the next three to four days. However, the safety of our students is our first concern and until we have confirmation that all damage has been fully repaired and the affected areas of the building are back to full operational efficiency, we will continue to provide students with hotel accommodation and support.”
He added that Unite continued to stay in daily contact with all students to advise them of progress and also provide advice on how to gain any additional support.