Students Fully Moved Back Into Mertz Following Pipe Burst

After three weeks back on campus, all Mertz residents have moved back into their dorms after they flooded over the break.

All students who were displaced due to flooding caused by a pipe burst in Mertz Hall were moved back into the building by Feb. 13. 

The burst pipe which occurred Dec. 24 was caused by extremely low temperatures in the building, resulting in floors two through 11 flooding with significant damage to students’ dorms and personal belongings, Director of Residence Life Des’mon Taylor wrote in an email to The Phoenix. 

While some first-year residents were able to move back after just a few days or weeks, students on floors 10 and 11 remained in different dorms for an extended period of time due to heavier water damage, according to Residence Life. The students on floors 10 and 11 moved back into Mertz on Feb. 12 and 13. 

Tiara Galto, a first-year majoring in psychology, was relocated to the Hampton Inn (on North Sheridan Rd.) with her roommate. She said it was weird to not have access to her dorm or any of the items she left on campus over break. 

Galto was unable to retrieve any of the items left in her room over break as they were stored in boxes she didn’t have access to. The only items she had were the ones she brought home with her over the break. 

“The remediation team began to label, pack, and store student belongings in a secure location on campus while they began the process of removing any wet drywall and carpet tiles,” Taylor wrote in an email to The Phoenix.

Galto moved back in Jan. 21 after not being able to see her room for the first week of the semester. She and her roommate moved their things back in over the weekend. 

“We had to push our stuff in [a Residence Life cart] from the hotel and then push it back to Mertz,” Galto said. “Then we had to wait for the construction company to put it in our room.” 

Residents who were impacted by the flooding were unable to enter their rooms during the repair process, according to Galto. While they were living in different buildings, the students were required to be checked in to Mertz as a guest if they wanted to visit their friends who remained in the building, according to Galto. 

First-year Gabby Wingard lived temporarily in Regis and moved back into Mertz Jan. 21. (Holden Green | The Phoenix)

First-year Gabby Wingard, who is double-majoring in secondary education and mathematics, lived with a temporary roommate in Regis during her first week back on campus due to her first semester roommate transferring over break.  Her temporary roommate was a resident of the eighth floor in Mertz, allowing her to move back in on Jan. 21. 

Wingard said she and her parents tried to get in communication with the school about her items left in her first semester dorm room, but the email replies were limited as Residence Life wasn’t fully back open until Jan. 3. She was never officially informed on where her things were relocated over winter break. 

Loyola sent an email confirming her items were in a safe location and a follow-up assuring her that her things would be in her temporary room assignment when she arrived back on campus for the spring semester.  

“I had to throw away some articles of clothing,” Wingard said. “I could have tried to wash them, but they were very moldy and disgusting. It was just a couple of T-shirts, that was pretty much the only damage I had. I do know a couple of other girls that had a lot worse damage and some of their things were never recovered.” 

First-year Sofia Ayala has yet to recover some of her items since her belongings were moved from her 7th floor room after the pipe burst. 

“We never got back a few items,” Ayala said. “We’re still fighting with the school about it.” 

Ayala said she has been trying to contact the school regarding her missing items, including 2 winter coats, since moving back into her room on Jan. 21. 

She was told her items would be brought into her room on Jan. 21 sometime between 9 a.m.and 4 p.m., but after waiting with the door open during that time, she became frustrated when her items never showed up. 

At 4:30 p.m, Ayala went downstairs to the Rambler Room where she was informed they were being stored to search for her things. She was permitted to go into the room and found the majority of her items in the very back of the room stored in Residence Life carts. 

The Rambler Room, which is a multi-purpose room in Centennial Forum for meetings and events doesn’t require a scanned Loyola ID or any kind of key to access.

This open-access makes Ayala think about all the people who had access to her belongings while they were sitting there. 

 “It lets me think anybody could have come in here and touched our stuff,” Ayala said.

Frustrated by her still lost items, Ayala said she is continuing to contact Residence Life about them. 

“So once again, multiple items are missing, and I’m not a materialistic person, but they are expensive items,” Ayala said. “They are basically worth $2,000 worth of stuff that are missing, they’re big stuff, and we’ve emailed about them several times.”

Ayala expressed concerns about her things being stolen due to the easy access of the Rambler Room, where her belongings were being stored. 

“Residence Life has provided resources on the Mertz Updates webpage regarding misplaced/lost/damaged items and are continuing to navigate any questions students may have,” Taylor wrote in an email to the Phoenix. 

Taylor said there is no permanent damage to Mertz, and Loyola’s Facilities have worked hard throughout the remediation process to ensure a safe environment for all the students to return to.

The last group of students moved in on Feb.13, according to Residence Life, allowing for the many students affected to return to their original campus dorms.  

“Residence Life, Facilities and our licensed water remediation vendor have worked diligently throughout the remediation process to help students return to a clean, dry and healthy environment,” Taylor wrote in an email to the Phoenix. 

Taylor said that Residence Life hopes to support and inform students and staff during winter break more often in the future, in order to better protect the community.

“The health, safety, and wellbeing of our students is always the University’s top priority,” Taylor said.

Galto, Wingard and Ayala, who were all impacted by this damage, said they would have liked to see better communication on the university’s part. Ayala and Wingard wish they had more information about where their items were being located and what their first few weeks back would look like when returning from break.

Featured image by Holden Green | The Phoenix

Anna Waldron

Anna Waldron