Winter storm leaves lasting impact on campus

Article Originally Published by Ileana Garnand on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Ileana Garnand on North Texas Daily

The effects of last week’s below-freezing temperatures are ongoing as the winter storm left several UNT facilities with damage and caused the university’s closure which threw courses off schedule.

Dining Services incurred multiple costs, including food spoiled by the rolling power outages and damage from burst pipes in some dining halls. The department will have to replace all of their water filters on campus due to the city’s boil water notice. It is too early to calculate the specific total of the cost of damages, Dining Services Senior Director Derrick Cripps said. 

Eagle’s Landing sustained some of the worst damage and is temporarily closed as it is being repaired. Because of this, Mean Greens reopened from non-storm-related issues early, returning to operation Monday night.

Cripps told the North Texas Daily dining was aware of the incoming adverse weather and bulked up on supplies beforehand. 

“We could only cook when we had power and had to plan our whole day around it and didn’t know when the power would come back on,” Cripps said. “It makes me really proud to work with this team who came in every day to help feed all the students stuck on campus with hot, fresh from-scratch meals.”

Residence halls were also affected by burst pipes. The front of Traditions Hall’s main floor flooded due to a burst pipe, front desk worker Paula Maria Frade said. At least two rooms in the hall suffered water damage.

Daniel Armitage, the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, confirmed the leaks. 

“You know, anytime you have a water leak someone will tell you that place is flooded,” Armitage said. “I think you’ve got to be very careful anytime you address that. Anytime you have significant amounts of water … I mean what is significant to you? What is significant to me? We’re just upset we had any water damage whatsoever.” 

David Reynolds, Associate Vice President for Facilities, confirmed the presence of water damage in Legends Hall and other areas.

“Several dormitories had leaks, but I’d call them ‘limited impact,’” Reynolds said. “You call them floods, it sounds like the whole building was overflowing. Three sorority houses were hit pretty hard by water damage and restoration services are underway to remove moisture. Planning is underway for repairs.  The University Services Building has some substantial flooding which has impacted University Brand Strategy and Communications office staff.  They are working around this with telework.  Restoration and planning for repairs are also underway.” 

Reynolds said last week’s events were a “unique and brutal storm” and praised the efforts of cleanup and repair teams. 

“Initial repairs to get buildings operational are progressing quicker than anticipated,” Reynolds said. “Hardworking, dedicated staff are making good things happen fast. Lots of people on the team are pitching in for areas they don’t normally work on. Most academic-related buildings are back in operation other than the five you saw in a campus email.  Some repairs may last well into the spring as some of the systems involved are quite complicated.”

Honors College principal lecturer Julie Leventhal said the lack of communication during the storm, due to both power outages and university systems being down, was the largest challenge. In the wake of the storm, she has already pushed back assignment deadlines and told her students to contact her if they are experiencing an issue meeting the new due dates. 

“I absolutely plan to offer additional extensions and assistance where I can, given that our students have multiple classes and a variety of responsibilities that aren’t solely related to their coursework,” Leventhal said. “I’m not 100 percent sure how this is going to impact the rest of the semester. Part of me wants to believe that we will just catch up on everything in the next week or two but in reality, we will be adapting and basically just surviving until the semester is over.”

Featured Image: A UNT student walks through the snow near Kerr Hall on Feb. 15, 2021. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

Source: North Texas Daily