Flooding From Burst Pipe Leaves Some Students Displaced from Mertz Hall After Winter Break

Some students have been temporarily displaced from their dorms in Mertz Residence Hall since their return to campus, following water damage from a pipe bursting in the building on Dec. 24.

Some students were temporarily moved out of their dorms in Mertz Residence Hall after their return to campus, following water damage from a pipe bursting in the building on Dec. 24.

Students were informed on Dec. 25 of the flooding in an email sent to Mertz residents which said a pipe had burst in the residence hall and floors two through 11 were impacted, with floors nine through 11 being impacted the most severely. 

The pipe burst was a result of extremely low temperatures which the Chicago area experienced over winter break, according to Matt McDermott, a Loyola spokesperson. 

“Residence Life, Facilities and our licensed water remediation vendor have worked diligently through the remediation process to provide a clean, dry and healthy environment for our students upon their return to campus,” McDermott said in an email to The Phoenix. 

This process includes the mapping of affected areas, removing wet drywall, insulation and carpet tiles, as well as using a blower to dry out all the building materials, according to McDermott. 

Neither Residence Life nor Facilities were available for comment. 

Octavio Meza, a first-year student who lived on the ninth floor of Mertz, was temporarily in St. Louis Hall, located on West Loyola Avenue. 

Other than the information about the pipe burst, Meza hasn’t received any further information from the university regarding the explanation of the flooding or any information regarding the damage done to the rooms. Meza moved back into his dorm on Jan. 28.

Kiran Osime, an international business major who was also temporarily living in St. Louis Hall, moved back into Mertz Hall on Jan. 29.

Osime said he hadn’t been allowed back into his room before the university gave him the approval to move back in, and when he tried to scan his student ID badge to get into the building, he discovered it had been deactivated. 

Osime said he’s seen photos of friends’ rooms on different floors which had been gutted, with no carpet on the floor and pieces of drywall missing. 

Students belongings were packed up and moved to a secure location while water remediation was taking place in Mertz, according to an update on the Loyola Residence Life website. Students are responsible for any items damaged in the flooding.

The university gave them an initial date for moving back into the dorms of Feb. 3, but that timeline was moved forward to about a week earlier than expected. 

Meza said students were put in the same rooms in St. Louis Hall as the roommates they had already been living with in Mertz Hall.

Although Meza has renters insurance to cover items damaged by the flooding, he said there was some damage caused by the movers who packed up his things over break which would not be covered by his insurance, including posters he had hanging on his wall being ripped.

Osime doesn’t have renters insurance, and when he arrived at St. Louis Hall after returning from break, he found a number of his personal items to be missing. He said replacing these items would cost hundreds of dollars.

Among the missing items were a TI-84 calculator, a pair of Yeezy sneakers, a pair of Nike Vapor Maxes, a backpack filled with various miscellaneous items and Osime’s roommate’s prescription medications. 

Osime sent an email to Residence Life on Jan. 19 in an attempt to recover the lost items, and received a response saying he could file a claim for any items which were lost.

The university also provided Osime with a reminder that students signed an agreement with the university stating students were responsible for any damage to personal items in the dorm. 

Both Meza and Osime said they did not like the idea of somebody else packing up and looking through their personal belongings, but they also understood there was no other option. 

This is the second time Mertz Hall has experienced flooding this school year, as it was one of 34 campus buildings affected by heavy rainfall in early Sept. 2022, The Phoenix previously reported.

Meza said he doesn’t feel the university has done enough for students who have been put in this situation. 

“A lot of us feel screwed over,” Meza said. “And that’s because we are screwed over.”

The health, safety and wellbeing of students is the university’s top priority, according to Loyola spokesperson Matt McDermott.

“We are thankful for the care that our faculty and staff have shown students – and that students have shown fellow students – throughout this challenging situation,” McDermott wrote in an email.

Osime said he wished the university had done a better job of planning ahead, considering this is not the first time the university has had issues with flooding. 

“If the flooding had happened before, they should have known if it was going to get cold and happen again,” Osime said. “They should have moved our stuff out of the dorm or put it in boxes so that I wouldn’t have to worry about replacing all of the stuff I had lost.” 

Meza said he feels students pay too much money in tuition and room and board for things such as this to continue to happen on campus. 

“Just alone, we pay a lot in housing, and it feels like we are asked to pay a lot and in return, we don’t really get the feeling of safety in our buildings,” Meza said, citing recent issues with the elevators in Mundelein and in Mertz Hall. “We pay a lot more than what we are given.”

Osime doesn’t feel students are currently the top priority of the university, calling instances such as this detrimental to the student experience and saying he wants the university to take the time to put themselves in the students’ situation. 

“Put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” Osime said. “If the ‘higher ups’ things got damaged, if it was their house and their pipes burst, I’m pretty sure that they would want their stuff reimbursed and taken care of.”

Featured image taken by Holden Green

Lilli Malone

Lilli Malone