Some students living in U Club Binghamton, a student housing complex in Vestal, New York, experienced a very wet housing malfunction earlier this month.
Around midnight on Sept. 11, a pipe burst in one of U Club Binghamton’s apartment buildings, leading to massive flooding. This caused several students to be relocated to U Club Binghamton townhouses due to damage done to their apartments. The water came out of a boiler room located in a student’s bedroom on the fourth floor and spread throughout the rest of the apartment and other rooms, including those on lower floors. Brett Petersen, a junior majoring in biochemistry, lived directly below the source of the flood and was at first unsure of what was happening.
“I hear this rain noise and I look out my window and I see no rain,” Petersen said. “I pull up the blind a little more because I hear it almost right above me and water is pouring down from a crack in my window, and it’s coming into my room from my ceiling.”
Shortly after the flooding started, the fire alarm for the building went off. Ellen Xu, a junior majoring in business administration, heard a loud noise right before the alarm went off but doubted there was an actual emergency. She quickly realized the situation was happening in her own apartment.
“My suitemate was screaming, so I went into her room and then saw water flowing out from a door in her room,” Xu said.
Xu and her suitemates started moving valuables out of the room as it filled with water. The flood then flowed into the common area so they jammed the doors to the other rooms in the apartment with blankets and towels to prevent water from flowing into them.
Petersen, Xu and the other affected residents then waited for help outside.
“We waited about a half an hour to an hour,” Xu said. “But no one could get to the management of U Club [Binghamton].”
Petersen was disappointed with the management’s response.
“I didn’t think it was great,” Petersen said. “I mean, I think we were let back into our apartment at around 2 a.m. and we weren’t moved into the townhouse until around four something — four in the morning — so not great.”
Kasandra Sotak, the general manager for U Club Binghamton, declined to comment on the events, but denied the flooding had occurred. According to Xu, the management had also refused to discuss the events with one of Xu’s roommates who is staying home this semester. The roommate was not notified by U Club Binghamton of the flooding and had to reach out to them to figure out was going on with her room.
“When she called back to the leasing office to ask, ‘What’s going on with my stuff?’ they said, ‘We don’t have a report, we can’t tell you, you have to go back and see it yourself,’” Xu said.
The affected residents have been living in the townhouses for over a week, but were initially told they would be back in their apartments in two weeks. The rent for the townhouses is more expensive than the apartments, but the students are not being charged a higher rate. They also have the option to stay after their apartments are ready, but will be charged the higher rate.
Petersen cited this lack of support as a reason he and his roommates might stay in the townhouse.
“My suitemates don’t really feel like moving back after two weeks,” Petersen said. “It will be our third time moving within like a month and a half. So, I thought that was not the best way to handle things.”