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Rough winter causes students to experience leaky roofs

Students on and off campus have experienced leaks this year

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Alexandra Mastoras was about 2 feet away from where her ceiling was about to collapse from the buildup of water on the roof of her Sundridge apartment in Amherst. The second-year graduate student in the school of social work turned around and saw debris all over her floor and belongings.

“I [was] thankful that nobody was hurt,” Mastoras said.

Students both on and off campus – as well as the Buffalo area at large – have dealt with leaking roofs because of the snow and cold weather this winter. Mark Eyrick, the vice president for property management at the Sundridge apartments, said that a vast majority of Western New York homes had leaks this winter because of the severe weather conditions. Buffalo had its 20th-coldest winter recorded this year, according to the National Weather Service.

Eyrick said the problem is not so much the roof of the homes, but rather the gutters. Eyrick said the gutters freeze with water, which leaves melting snow on the roof with nowhere to go but underneath the shingles.

“It’s just a problem that was created by the weather conditions this winter,” Eyrick said.

“There really aren’t many roofs that are exempt from the problem.”

Flint Village apartments on North Campus have had more than 40 apartments with leaks this winter, according to Marnie Mancuso, the apartments’ property manager at UB. Mancuso said the damages never got to the severity of a ceiling collapse, but were isolated to drywall and carpet damage.

“The first leaks were reported in early March, we notified students and told them it could take a couple weeks until we could start repairs,” Mancuso said “The ice was so frozen … we couldn’t get on the roof to fix the leaks, the roofing materials wouldn’t adhere, so we had to wait to fix the problem.”

Patrick Woodward, the Flint Village complex director, said there are plans in place when leaks occur, maintenance crews are notified and private contractors work to fix the issues.

More than 75 percent of the affected apartments have been dry walled and more than 50 percent have been painted since the leaks occurred, according to Mancuso. Mancuso said that final repairs will hopefully be finished by the end of this week.

Students living in Flint received emails from Residential Life recommending them to place buckets underneath the leak to prevent any further damage. Jeanette Zalba, the associate director of Residential Life, said that the leaks were unique to Flint because it has a different design than other on-campus apartments.

“It was isolated to Flint because of the architecture of those apartments,” Mancuso said “The angle of the roof is steeper [at Flint]… there was an extreme amount of ice that built up this winter causing the leaks.”

Mastoras experienced the worst of what a leaky ceiling can do at Sundridge. She had reported water damage at her apartment starting in August 2014.

“An MJ Peterson representative came to look at the damages and stated it had been repaired already,” Mastoras said. “I feel neglected by MJ Peterson, my concerns went unaddressed and that is unfortunate.”

The ceiling damage was not fixed right away and Mastoras was living in a damp cold apartment for a short while. UB Off-Campus Student Services contacted Mastoras and paid to put her in a hotel for two days, which according to Mastoras was very helpful during midterms.

“We were sleeping on the floor and living in the living room, it was very kind of [UB] to pay for a hotel for two days.” Mastoras said.

MJ Peterson accommodated Mastoras and her roommate by covering the cost for movers that moved them into Liberty Square apartments, which is also managed by MJ Peterson. Liberty Square is more expensive than Sundridge, but MJ Peterson agreed to let the tenants pay the same rent that they had been paying at their old apartment.

“I feel like we did everything we could for these residents, both in terms of dealing with the issue and accommodating them for other housing,” Eyrick said. “I’m really not sure what else we can do.”

Eyrick said his ow n home had a leaking roof and that not much can be done except “remove snow and ice from the roof to minimize the amount of snow and ice that will eventually melt.”

Charles W Schaab is the assistant news editor and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com


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