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Students Awake to Flooding, Water Damage in 90

When Maureen Kelly woke up early in the morning on Feb. 27, droplets were falling from crevices in the ceiling of her dorm room in 90 St. Thomas More Rd.

The top bunk of her roommate’s bed was soaked and the carpet and kitchen tile looked like a rainstorm had just passed over them. Her six-man suite in 90 was filled with water. 

“We were trying to put pots and pans everywhere and they were just filling up with gross, yellowy water and we had to keep dumping it away,” Kelly, MCAS ’23, said. “Eventually we started using our recycling and trash bins.” 

Kelly said she noticed the water at about 6:45 a.m. and suspects that the flooding had only been happening for a couple of hours, as she later learned that the girls living in the suite above her had not yet noticed any water in their room when they went to bed around 4 a.m. 

Kelly and her roommates called the Office of Residential Life at around 7 a.m., she said.

“They came, … went upstairs and checked the other rooms, then eventually pulled the fire alarm to send everyone outside,” Kelly said. “And I think they shut the water off.” 

Kelly’s suite was one of several in the residence hall that were damaged by the flooding, according to Heights reporting. 

Hanganh Vo, a resident of the fourth floor of 90 and MCAS ’23, said that as students walked out the building, the staircases were “flooded with water.”

Kelly said that in the morning, ResLife provided her group with consistent updates. ResLife initially told Kelly and her roommates that they would be temporarily housed in a hotel, but by noon notified the group that because there were six of them, they would instead be moved into a vacant Mod.

Vo said that ResLife told her and her roommates that it was unlikely that they would be able to return to their rooms or live there for the near future, and advised them to pack a bag with clothes and other belongings. 

 “… [ResLife representatives] were like ‘We’ll figure out where you guys are moving next,’” Vo said. “‘It might be like a hotel or somewhere off campus but we’ll figure out transportation and all that stuff so you guys can still go to class.’”

Katerina Orfanos, Lynch ’23, and her roommates who live in a six-person apartment on the fifth floor of 90 were also affected by the flooding. 

When they were told to evacuate, Orfanos’ common room was filled with about 2 inches of standing water. After spending the day bagging and labeling their belongings, which BC offered to launder, the roommates quickly packed up and moved into the AC Marriott Hotel in Cleveland Circle. 

Orfanos and her roommate, Madeline Bowden, MCAS ’23, said they were initially impressed by how ResLife handled the incident and helped them through the process of moving out. But, as the days went on, the roommates grew frustrated with ResLife’s lack of communication. 

Bowden said that she and her roommates were suspicious that their carpet, which was saturated with water, had mold in it. The roommates kept trying to get people’s phone numbers to ask how they were going to handle the issue, she said, but failed to get in contact with anyone. 

“We couldn’t really get in contact with anybody,” Bowden said. “Like, no one. We couldn’t get a phone number, and we were trying to send emails out, and we weren’t getting a ton of responses. 

Bowden said that ResLife responded to an email she and her roommates sent about the carpet situation with a mass chain email to everyone who had been affected by the flooding. The email said that it would be about a week’s worth of work in each of the rooms, and did not specify the nature of the work that would be conducted, she said.

Vo, on the other hand, said she felt supported by ResLife throughout the process.

“They were constantly communicating with us,” Vo said. “All of the ResLife and Facilities people who helped us move would keep us updated on the state of our room and … [the communication] was really open. I felt like they really cared that we were going through this and they made it super easy.”

Residents of 90 heard rumors about the cause of the flooding, the students said, but have not received an official explanation from ResLife. 

ResLife did not respond by press time about what caused the flooding, but several students reported to The Heights that staff said the flooding was caused by a pipe that burst on the fifth floor.

Water damage from the flood on the walls of a kitchenette in 90.

Nipuni Obe, another one of Orfanos’ roommates and MCAS ’23, said that she asked a BC Facilities employee about what happened, and he told her that the flooding was caused by poor maintenance of the buildings. Orfanos and her roommates have heard about incidents of flooding in residence halls in previous semesters, they said. 

Aside from water damage to their dorm rooms, residents who were impacted by the floods have shared other concerns. 

With all the commotion of moving to temporary housing, as well as Facilities workers and ResLife staff making repairs, Kelly and her roommates were concerned about contracting COVID-19 from the staff entering their room. Since the incident, neither Kelly nor any of her roommates have tested positive for COVID-19. 

COVID-19 was an added stressor for Orfanos’ group, though, when one of the roommates tested positive on March 2, and the rest of her suite was moved from the AC Marriott to Hotel Boston to quarantine. They are still not sure where their roommate contracted the virus, Orfanos said.

The roommate that tested positive was moved to Pine Manor for isolation. 

The roommates had only packed for a three-day stay, so they didn’t have what they needed in quarantine at first. ResLife delivered the students some of their clothing that had been left in their dorm, Orfanos said. 

All of the students that spoke to The Heights have returned to their dorm rooms, and many reported that their belongings were damaged. 

For Kelly, everything from her TV to her clothing was ruined. Bowden and her roommates’ textbooks and shoes got wet. One of Orfanos’ roommates was charging her laptop in the common room the night of the flooding, and it was completely submerged, Orfanos said. 

The University is still assessing damages to the building caused by the flooding, and residents have filled out forms describing the nature of the damage, the students said. 

Facilities has repaired all the affected rooms in 90, the students said, restoring the walls and baseboards as needed. In the interest of time, BC decided not to pursue aesthetic fixes, according to an email Obe received from ResLife, which means that Kelly and Orfanos’ rooms have drywall dust, missing trim, and unpainted sections of plastered wall. 

After returning to their suite, Orfanos and her roommates found mold on Friday on one of their desk chairs, even after ResLife confirmed that their room was mold-free the week prior. This discovery has left the three roommates concerned, they said.

Orfanos and her roommates said that they emailed ResLife about the mold and had not yet received a response at the time of publication.

Kelly said overall, she was grateful for how BC helped her navigate a less-than-ideal situation, though the flooding was still a disruptive experience, as the students were out of their rooms for an entire week. 

“It felt a little bit like all of the past year of chaos just tumbled into an extra week,” Kelly said.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

Other Image by Jared Brosnan / For the Heights

March 14, 2021