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McLaughlin water damage bunks UNH students to lounge

By Alexis Ryzewic, Contributing Writer

Brittney Marshall and Sawyer Biron, residents of McLaughlin Hall, were forced to temporarily move into the dorm’s lounge for almost a week after a water leak took over their room. 

On Saturday, Feb. 7, Marshall discovered a leak in their room that was coming from the window.  After further inspection, they realized the water was finding its way through about 10 holes that were drilled to put in the blinds. 

“We had so much water leaking that it was filling up my Sunny D [container] every night,” Biron said.  “I had to empty it at least once every night.” 

The girls made several calls to UNH housing maintenance before they received help.  They were given oil spill pads and buckets to help with the leak.  They asked when the leak would be fixed; maintenance responded that they couldn’t do anything until the ice melted in the spring.   

The oil spill pads did not help absorb any of the water, and in another attempt for help they contacted their hall director, Sarah Stephens, who gave them wet floor mats.  Maintenance also gave them a dehumidifier to help remove moisture from the air. 

When the leak started to soak Biron’s bed, the girls were moved into the lounge on Feb. 7 where they bunked until Feb. 11, when they were told it was okay to return back to their room.

A water bubble, collecting the runoff water, formed over the windowsill in the ceiling of their room. 

“I popped one of the water bubbles that had formed in the ceiling with a fork,” Marshall said.  “I was expecting an explosion of water but it just kind of poured out.”   

McLaughlin Hall resident assistant Stephanie Vasilopoulos had also experienced leaking in her room over the weekend. She was given buckets, water mats and a dehumidifier. 

“Maintenance told me that they were going to clean off the roof over my room to get rid of the snow and ice to help with the leaking,” Vasilopoulos said. 

Stephens has checked in on the students who are experiencing the leaking problems almost daily. Stephens has remained in contact with maintenance to make sure problem is dealt with efficiently and effectively.    

Luckily in both scenarios, no personal property was damaged.  If a student’s property is damaged, is it covered by insurance?  The answer is no. Michel Williams, who is the assistant director of housing facilities & operations said, “In the housing contract a student signs, it states that the university is not responsible for any damages sustained to personal property due to flooding or things of that nature.”  The full disclosure can be read in the student’s handbook under Liability in section A: General Provision of the Room and Board Agreement. 

According to housing officials, housing will relocate a student if needed.  Renters and housing insurance are the only ways a student can possibly be reimbursed if their property is damaged.  If clothing is soaked by water, housing will give the student Cat’s Cache to do laundry.    

UNH Housing said McLaughlin is not the only dorm that is experiencing water damage and leaking. Congreve has some issues with leaking as well. In McLaughlin, most of the building is made of plaster, which is resistant to water and will not form mold when wet. 

“There are several bucket trucks located around campus to remove the snow above the ice dams and to remove some of the icicles and ice build up,” Williams said. “This will help treat the ice damming issue that is common problem during the winter months.” 

Ice damming is when snow gets into the eves of buildings.  As the weather gets warmer, the snow melts. And as the temperature suddenly drops again, the water freezes and expands, which can then lead to water damage to the building through leaking.  Williams stated it is a typical winter hazard that is currently affecting many dorms on campus such as the Upper Quad, the Mini Dorms, Congreve, and the SERCs.

“There was an icicle that fell in the Upper Quad, which took out a window and damaged a column,” Williams said. “There was no structural damage, it was more atheistic.”

There is about a month left of winter.  In the mean time, UNH is looking forward to warmer weather in the upcoming spring.

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