Seven suites in Juda Hall and one in Beshears flooded on January 7th, over a week before the spring semester started.
The cause of the flooding was a frozen water line that broke and seeped into seven suites in Juda and one suite in Beshears. Eight supply pipes froze as well but did not cause as much damage.
The cause of the frozen pipes was due to several dorms not having their heat turned on over winter break and the temperatures landing around negative 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
Physical Plant Director Jerry Gentry said students were not advised to turn off their heat over winter break and that if the heat was on, the flooding in Juda most likely wouldn’t have happened.
“I don’t know why, but over 80 percent of the halls in Juda’s heat was turned off for break,” Gentry said.
Residential Life Director Nathan Roberts said students were not advised to turn off their heat but that the checklist students have before leaving for breaks will explicitly state that the heat should stay around 50 degrees.
“I don’t know where the communication mix up happened because there was no communication within the departments telling students to turn their heat off. In fact, I personally helped close the buildings and went through Beshears and anytime I went into a room that was kind of cold, I’d turn the heat on and the assistant director did the same in Juda.” Roberts said.
While Gentry said the pipes freezing was a preventable issue, Auxiliary Maintenance Supervisor Corey Stewart believes there was little that could be done.
“It’s so hard to tell because when the wind blows and [it’s below zero], I just don’t know what you’re going to do to prevent wind chill from freezing pipes,” Stewart said.
The broken pipes didn’t cost much too fix but the cost of paying maintenance made the repair total around $5,000.
It is unsure how many students were affected by the flooding. There have been some reports of damaged items but it is unsure how much property damage was caused.
Missouri Western sent out an email to the students affected. The email said student property damage would not be covered by the school and that students should check in early to see the state of their items.
Director of Finance in the Student Government Association Tucker Mccoy is a friend of those affected by the flooded dorms. He felt that Western was somewhat taking advantage of students.
“It’s unfortunate but I think the bad thing that happened was the university’s response to the issue. On the same day it was flooded the university sent out emails saying, ‘everything flooded but it wasn’t our fault and we aren’t responsible for damages’,” Mccoy said.
Mccoy said there are students living in the dorms that have issues with black material coming out of their shower, do not have hot water and that half of their wall outlets non-functional.
“Some students live out of state. I’m sure that was a pretty rude awakening to a lot of students who got that email. I think the university kind of takes advantage of students, especially when it comes to this scenario where they think, ‘oh students will pay, they have to pay it [because] they live in St. Louis, or they live in Kansas,” Mccoy said. “What are they going to do go rent an apartment? They don’t want to do that. There’s really nothing a student can do to respond back against them.”
Only the wall outlet dysfunction has been confirmed by Roberts, however.
It is advised that students living in the dorm halls should invest in renters insurance to prevent having to pay for property damage caused by flooding, fire and other natural issues.