What started as an exciting snow day on Monday for many students has evolved into a nightmare for others after winter storms slam the state and leave many dealing with severe property damages.
Some of the most common damage reported has been due to frozen and burst pipes as result of the freezing temperatures that rolled in with the storm.
Varad Mahajan, a public policy leadership major and resident at the Retreat, said he and his roommates were lucky to escape unscathed after their ceiling collapsed due to water damage.
“We were in there 60 seconds before the roof came down,” he said. “It was pretty crazy. If the roof had fallen on anyone, they would have been in the hospital.”
According to Mahajan, the damage was caused by a frozen shower pipe.
“My roommate was in the middle of taking a shower when the water pressure went way down,” he said. “We think it’s a problem with the water heater, and it’s making all sorts of crazy sounds. Then, we hear dripping, and there’s a waterfall in the middle of my room. Any hole in the ceiling, it was coming out of there; the lights, the vents.”
Just minutes later, the ceiling in their living room collapsed, spewing water, insulation and other debris into the main living area of the home.
While Mahajan’s severe structural damage is rare, his experience with water damage and burst pipes is not. Across Oxford, students and community members have faced serious ramifications of the cold snap.
“Out of the wall, we start seeing water trickling down,” said Raina Boggan, a law studies major and a resident at the Domain. “All of a sudden, we see water gushing, and it’s coming out of the light fixtures in the kitchen. When we walked out, there was water gushing out from the building.”
When sprinkler pipes burst across the Domain on Tuesday night, Boggan, who is also an employee at the complex, said she was responsible for assisting residents in evacuating multiple damaged units.
“Last night, I was having to evacuate everybody out of the building, and I walked into the office and the whole thing was flooded,” she said. “It has been a 24-hour ordeal.”
Videos of the flooding at the complex have been shared widely across social media, including a viral video of employees attempting to sweep water down a stairwell.
Across town, residents at Faulkner Flats faced similar, although less severe, damages.
“(We) heard a strange noise from the hallway, and there was just water pouring from the lamp in the roof,” Daniel Lawrence, who lives at the complex, said. “We think that the gasket fueling the sprinkler from the main line froze and broke. There was a waterfall of water coming out.”
Unlike the Domain, which offers traditional stack-style apartments, Faulkner Flats is built in a way that Lawrence said leaves pipes particularly vulnerable to damage.
“Essentially, the way the buildings are done is that there are only garages on the bottom floors and only houses on the top floors, so the stairwells don’t have heaters,” he said. “The buildings are not designed for this weather because when it gets below freezing, the stairwells all freeze.”
As for future damage, some residents at the Retreat, Domain and Faulkner Flats are optimistic that they have seen the worst already. However, for Mahajan, who is still living in his unit, the possibility of more severe weather is daunting.
“You’ve got to think, the ceiling fell down,” he said. “All of the insulation came with it. Right now we’re in a house with a quarter less insolation than normal. It’s probably five to seven degrees colder than it should be.”