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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Repairs slowed by Ike continue

Residential buildings are mostly back to normal after Hurricane Ike, housing officials say, though projects begun prior to the storm have met delays.

Renovations to the Moody Towers started in June were slowed by Ike, the second storm to strike the University since work began, said Javier Hidalgo, associate director of Operations for Residential Life and Housing.

Internal plumbing and external walls in both towers are receiving makeovers, which were scheduled to be complete by September and late October, respectively, before the storms and some equipment failures. The new projected completion dates are mid-October and mid-November.

"The exterior wall repairs and coating addresses issues like concrete spalling, moisture penetration and aesthetics. The domestic water pipe repairs addresses aging pipes and leaks, water flow and water temperature fluctuation," Hidalgo said. "These projects were necessary to keep the building operating at the intended use."

The $2.2 million cost of the renovations has not been increased by the delays, he said.

Hidalgo also said complaints lodged by residents at a Residence Halls Association meeting in September regarding water pressure and temperature problems in Moody Towers have been addressed.

"In order to keep the facilities operational, temporary piping was implemented. This contributed to the problems brought up during that meeting," he said.

Tower residents have mixed responses to the renovations, with some complaining of the inconvenience and others saying they’ve had no problems.

"The building’s very old, so it’s very helpful for the building to have renovations," music sophomore Vyacheslav Dobrushkin said. Dobrushkin lives in the South Tower and said he’s had no problems. "It’s perfect."

North Tower resident Vicky Cantu, a psychology freshman, said she’s encountered closed bathrooms and noise problems.

Cantu said one of the biggest problems is not knowing when bathrooms will be unavailable.

"You wake up in the morning, and there’s a big sign: ‘Bathroom closed,’" she said. "It wouldn’t be so inconvenient if they would just tell us…. The main thing is the communication problem."

Biochemistry freshman Vansh Vohra said several bathroom stalls have been closed for the renovations, which can lead to shortages during peak times on his floor in the South Tower.

For civil engineering freshman Aaron Spaugh, however, problems have been minimal.

"It’s kind of noisy. That’s pretty much it," he said. "We’re not really there during the day."

Elsewhere on campus, residential buildings are mostly back to normal, Hidalgo said.

"All water remediation, debris pick-up and roof repairs are completed. We are still working on gutters in both (the Quadrangle) and Cougar Place, as well as complete roof replacements in Cougar Place," he said.

Four students from Cougar Place whose rooms were uninhabitable after Hurricane Ike have returned to their apartments as of Thursday, Hidalgo said.

RLH officials don’t have final numbers on the financial cost of Hurricane Ike, but preliminary estimates show costs of $45,000 for roof repairs, $42,000 in water remediation and $25,000 in room repairs, Hidalgo said. The residential areas sustained roof damage to all buildings, water damage to 64 rooms in Moody Towers, 10 rooms in the Quads, 12 in Cougar Place and a tree fell on Building 12 in Cougar Place, in addition to trees and debris on walkways, Hidalgo said.

Early and aggressive water remediation has kept mold from being a concern, he said.

"We had a water remediation company work on the affected rooms that started working a day after Ike. Since our response was immediate mold was not an issue," he said.

Overall, he said, the damages could have been worse.

"We actually did much better than expected due to the size and force of the storm," he said.

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