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A fire hydrant on 33rd Street burst early Sunday, flooding a nearby Starbucks, temporarily closing several roads and forcing nine Georgetown students to evacuate their off-campus apartments.

When the hydrant, located next to Starbucks on 33rd and M Streets, burst early Sunday morning, the coffee shop was overrun with more than four feet of water. Parts of 33rd Street were closed and M Street was closed from 34th Street to Wisconsin Avenue for much of Sunday morning, and while one lane had reopened by the afternoon, the closure caused massive traffic, with backups extending across the Key Bridge into Rosslyn.

Pam Mooring, public affairs coordinator for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, said the incident is still under investigation.

“It was an issue with a hydrant, [but] we still haven’t determined if it was struck by a vehicle,” she said.

ooring said that members of the fire department quickly turned off the hydrant upon arriving on the scene to stop the flow of water into the street. Instead of replacing the hydrant, Mooring said the WASA will relocate the hydrant somewhere else along the line.

Since several emergency crews responded to the scene, Mooring said, and as of yesterday afternoon, WASA still has not removed the hydrant.

“This [Starbucks] will not be able to open anytime soon,” Sgt. Quigley of the D.C. Fire Department said. “I think people are going to have to find a new coffee place for a while.”

Eight Georgetown undergraduates and one second-year Georgetown Medical Center student were evacuated from the apartments above Starbucks.

Harshal Patel (SFS ’09) said he and his roommates were first warned that they would need to evacuate at 7 a.m. Sunday morning and were officially evacuated by early in the afternoon.

“Only about half of the apartments were evacuated,” he said.

Brittany Skoda (MSB ’10), who lives in an apartment directly above Starbucks, was forced to evacuate with her roommate early Sunday morning after the incident.

“At around 5:30 or 6 in the morning, the police were knocking on the door, and they were saying, `You have to get out,’ and we had no idea what was going on,” she said. “You could see water coming out of Starbucks, like four feet of water inside Starbucks, and it was coming up out of the bricks. They had to break the windows to get the water out.”

Skoda said that she and her roommate were only briefly allowed to return to their apartment later that day.

“They eventually found the switch to turn [the water] off,” she said, “and they escorted us back in to get a few more things, but they said the building was structurally unsafe and we couldn’t stay there.”

Patel said that while his apartment has not suffered any damage, he is still waiting for the green light to move back in. “They said we could move back in once the city confirms that the building isn’t going to collapse,” he said.

Randall Hagner, the Washington, D.C. real estate firm that owns the building, offered all of the evacuated students alternate housing and reduced their rent, Patel said.

He added that Hagner does not own any additional properties in Georgetown, and that as far as he knows, all nine students chose to stay with friends or move into hotels because the alternate housing options “were too far from campus.”

“At least two students moved in with friends on the other side of the complex that wasn’t evacuated,” he said, “and my roommates and I just moved in with friends on campus.”

Skoda and her roommate have temporarily moved into a hotel and are awaiting an update from officials about the status of their apartment.

“We don’t know if and when we’ll be able to get back in there,” she said. “Our apartment is fine. It’s just that they decided that the footing beneath the building was unsafe.”

Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire Department, said yesterday that the building containing Starbucks remains structurally sound.

“The investigation concluded that there is no structural compromise to the building,” he said. “Occupant[s] should be allowed back in.”

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