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On-Campus Housing Floods During Polar Vortex

On Saturday February 4, the Claver, Loyola, Xavier, and Fenwick (CLFX) building on Upper Campus flooded, causing hundreds of freshmen to evacuate during the weekend’s dangerous polar vortex temperatures. The fire alarm went off three separate times, causing a response from the Boston Fire Department as well as BCPD and forcing all residents to clear the building. 

Temperatures during the evacuations, which happened in the late afternoon and early evening, ranged from 5 to -5 degrees with windchill. Students were directed to go to O’Connell House, also located on Upper Campus, to wait out the cold while the alarms were investigated and deactivated. 

According to maintenance staff, the flooding was caused by an open window in a room on the fourth floor that allowed the subzero temperatures to enter the building and freeze the pipes. Several students’ rooms on the fourth floor, and on the lower Claver and Loyola floors, were subsequently flooded. 

Due to the flooding, the water in the building was shut off for several hours Saturday night. A ResLife On-Call email went out to notify students that the water and bathrooms were unavailable, and again when they were back on. 

“I am a little concerned about the structural integrity of our buildings, especially because they’re so old,” Claver resident Donato Alvarado said. “They should definitely be checking for mold, under the carpet, things like that.” 

Along with the rooms, there was a significant amount of water in one of the Fenwick lounges as well as the Claver elevator. Although all of the water originated on the top (fourth) floor, it seeped through the floors and dripped down the entire building throughout the day. 

Students with minor flooding could stay in their rooms but still had to deal with inconveniences such as flooded bathrooms. Loyola’s third-floor bathroom was completely flooded and unusable, so Fenwick’s bathroom was propped open for Loyola residents on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Other issues that those with flooded rooms dealt with were maintenance staff coming in and out, and trying to dry out the water.

“My room wasn't terribly affected, but the carpet around the back wall and the closets got soaked,” Loyola resident H. Edwards said. “All of our things are fine, but they did have two huge fans placed in our room and we have to leave the door open so that workers can walk in and out. There were many times I would wake up to random men in the room.” 

Students in some of the more severely affected rooms lost bedding, technology, and other items to water damage. Many residents were not allowed to stay in their rooms after they cleared their stuff out, and were told by ResLife to either find a friend to stay with or request temporary housing. 

Some freshmen who requested temporary housing were sent to live on the first floor of Fenwick (still in the CLXF building) while others were sent to the St. Thomas More apartments, along with juniors displaced by flooding in Gabelli. Most were not offered housing until around 9:00 pm Saturday night. 

A BC-sponsored 48-Hours retreat took place the weekend of the flooding, which caused several freshmen to be off-campus for the entire weekend. These students were unable to return to their rooms until Sunday to dry out their rooms and get their belongings out of the water. 

Besides the CLXF building, several other on-campus residents had issues with flooding due to the rapid temperature changes. There were pipes burst in the mods as well as in Gabelli and even in some off-campus housing. 

“I think the way [BC] handled it was inefficient,” Xavier resident Amelia Male said. “They should have definitely been more proactive about telling students what not to do, making sure people would not leave a window open because a lot of people have never been in these kinds of temperatures before.”

Several major buildings in the Boston area also experienced burst pipes and flooding, causing the temporary closure of the Prudential Center and even the Boston Medical Center emergency room. 

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