Flood causes water damage in dorms

Students frustrated with UB’s cleanup

On January 30, 2014

  • During UB's winter break, frigid temperatures caused water pipes to freeze and burst in two dormitories. Some students returned to find their belongings tossed around their dorm rooms and dispersed into their neighbors’ rooms from UB’s cleanup. Courtesy of Jaime Lachapelle
  • Maor Purnsrian, a freshman intended nursing major, lives in Richmond Building 4. When she returned to Buffalo, she found her room in disarray. Chad Cooper, The Spectrum

A refrigerator unplugged in the middle of the dorm. Boxes, bulletin boards, a fan on her bed. Mouthwash and olive oil across the hall.

Jaime Lachapelle returned to Buffalo on Sunday and found her and her roommate's belongings tossed all over the place.

On Jan. 9, during UB's extended winter break, a polar vortex spread across the nation. Freezing temperatures in Buffalo caused water pipes to freeze and burst in Richmond Building 4 and Spaulding Building 4 - two dormitories in Ellicott Complex.

Water leaked down into a handful of dorm rooms, including Lachapelle's.

UB responded immediately, according to Director of Residential Facilities Don Erb. Residential Building Services spent days removing water and cleaning every item in students' rooms.

Lachapelle's and her roommates' belongings were not damaged. The belongings were, however, tossed around their dorm and dispersed into their neighbors' rooms.

"My parents were also really disappointed when they came in here because, yeah I had a flood, and yes they cleaned it, but they could've put the furniture back," Lachapelle said. "[UB doesn't] give us much time to adjust to come to school; they give us the next day. I don't want to come back and clean my room for three and a half hours and then go to school the next morning."

The Spectrum asked Erb to respond to students' complaints about the disorganization and misplacement of their possessions.

"There's not a lot of order to a rapid removal of personal belongings in a flood," Erb said in an email.

Lachapelle, a freshman undecided major, and her roommate Maor Purnsrian, a freshman intended nursing major, are paying for that as they continue to reorganize their belongings.

Though the students don't have any serious damages, they find it unsettling that if they did, UB wouldn't compensate financially because they never bought renter's insurance.

On its website, Campus Living encourages students to invest in renter's insurance to protect their belongings in their dorms. None of the students The Spectrum interviewed in Richmond or Spaulding have bought it.

"There are so many fees that come with dorming, I thought that would be maybe part of it," Lachapelle said.

Purnsrian said, hypothetically, if her belongings were damaged, she couldn't afford to replace them. She thinks UB should reimburse students if their personal items are damaged in dorms, especially when students are gone - like they were during winter break.

"I'm here on financial aid, most people are, or most of my friends are, so do you want me to pay another thousand dollars for all the things you messed up on because I didn't get renter's insurance?" Purnsrian said.

No students in Richmond 4, where floors 9 through 4 were affected, or Spaulding, where floors 5 and 4 were affected, have yet indicated that any of their belongings were permanently damaged, according to Erb.

But a group of male students in Richmond 4, room 865, had to be relocated because of damage to the ceiling. Erb said the ceiling will be replaced by this summer. The students were relocated to Greiner Hall.

Repairs were completed by Jan. 24, Erb said.


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