By Darren Zancan
Andrea Snow was a sophomore living in McGregor Hall when the building experienced a flood that left many students displaced. Two years later, Snow found herself experiencing an all-too-familiar situation as she and 415 other students were evacuated from their dorms early Tuesday morning.
“It was complete chaos,” said Snow, an apparel design and merchandising major from Williamstown. “We’re just living out of our bags, hoping we have a place to sleep tonight.”
According to Associate Vice President for Public Relations Marc Whitt, a water main broke at 12:35 a.m. The break, which caused three feet of standing water in the basement, along with three to four inches of water in the lounge, laundry room and 14 student rooms, happened when a coupling on a water main failed inside the residence hall.
The flood damaged a high voltage transformer causing loss of power in the building.
“This indistinguishable alarm woke me out of a deep sleep,” said Amanda Luckett, who lives on the sixth floor. “All I knew was I needed to grab my keys and wallet and get out. They told us to grab overnight clothes just in case. If we aren’t allowed in our rooms by tonight (Tuesday) they will provide us lodging for the night. I am basically carrying my life around with me.”
Many students said they felt that Eastern should have handled the situation better.
“We walked around campus until three a.m. until we finally found a room in Telford,” said Jamie Manning, a sophomore elementary education major from Williamstown. Manning waited with her things in Powell for news on if she would be allowed back in her dorm that night. “I feel like I’m homeless.”
Terrance Tuggle, a sophomore history education major from Lexington, said the officials treated the displaced students as though they were a hassle.
“We were [treated like] the equivalent of refugees,” Tuggle said.
Students were told on Tuesday to try and find a place to stay that night with friends on or off campus, and if they couldn’t, to email the Housing Department by 5 p.m. so arrangements could be made for them.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, waterline repairs were underway and water was flowing properly. A replacement transformer was placed in the mechanical room and work on the connection began.
Throughout the night, Housing kept students updated on the status of the repairs in the building on the website they provided. At 10:45 p.m., it was announced that students could reoccupy their dorms at 11:15 p.m., almost 24 hours later.
Several students already had hotel rooms lined up, because they had no idea if, and when, their dorm rooms would be open. Most could not wait until almost midnight to get back inside.
“They should have had a better back up plan instead of just scrambling for one at the last minute,” said Kendra Harrison, a junior education major from Belfry. “They couldn’t tell us when it would be fixed, or even how they would notify us. The people were rude. It was ridiculous.