STUDENTS DISPLACED AFTER PIPES BURST IN VWK
Significant repairs are required for some rooms, like this third floor suite, which is directly below where the pipe burst. Courtesy of Danielle Patton.
By: Byron Hoskinson – Staff Writer
Around 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, a pipe burst on the eastern side of the Virginia W. Kettering Complex’s fourth floor caused flooding on the fourth, third, and second floors, forcing 58 sophomores out of their rooms and the closing of the dorm’s dining hall.
The water displaced students from 17 suites and caused damage to the dorm and student property, according to university officials. Most students were relocated to neighboring freshman dorm Stuart Hall while others reported taking up temporary residence with friends.
University officials said it is too early to estimate the extent of damages or when repairs will be completed and students can return to their rooms.
According to an email sent Jan. 23, the VWK dining hall was closed until further notice due to the broken water line.
A follow-up email stated the dining hall would reopen at 3 p.m. that day.
Affected residents said they were called to an emergency meeting at 2:45 p.m. in which they were informed of their relocation to Stuart and told to remove belongings from rooms so maintenance could begin work.
Yolanda Gavillan, a sophomore education major now living in Stuart, said they were informed the university was not responsible for damages and would not cover personal possessions. She said the university said it would cover the laundering cost of soaked clothing.
During the move-out, residents expressed surprise and confusion regarding the events and how they were handled. A resident of the suite directly below the pipe burst described his shock at seeing “a waterfall pouring down in front of my window, coming from the room above.”
A third floor resident who wished to remain anonymous called the university’s response “discouraging.”
“I asked the woman in charge if we’d be compensated for damaged property. She said, verbatim, ‘that’s not our practice,’” the resident said.
Officials working on the scene were not able to comment on compensatory procedure.
Students from a flooded fourth floor hall said they were told they would be placed in Stuart through the weekend.
Around 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, displaced students received an email from Housing and Residence Life operations manager Joi Scales outlining the process for returning to VWK and for reporting damages. The email instructed displaced residents to notify housing if they had books that sustained water damage and said the laundry would be returned by 7 p.m. that evening.
Kevin Cavallaro, a sophomore communication major who lived on VWK’s second floor, said he was told by a resident assistant that he and his fellow suitemates may be in Stuart for up to two more weeks. He said he was lucky not to have lost much in the flooding.
Gavillan said the water destroyed close to $1,000 of her property, including clothes and electronics. Gallivan, like her suitemates, is from Puerto Rico and described the difficulties of having lost so much while living so far from home.
“All our shoes and clothes were soaked or ruined,” she said. “I was using a heating pad because of a recent surgery. Now that’s gone. Because our winter clothes and boots were being dried, we didn’t have anything warm to wear until our clothes were returned.”