Three days after a backed up pipe in Cole Hall caused severe sewage flooding, residents say they are still waiting for the University to fully fix the damage.
According to residents, the pipe was unplugged Sunday but the basement carpet is still saturated with sewage and chemicals from the clean-up and the walls are stained with black sludge. The stench of human waste could be smelled from the building’s lobby Tuesday night.
The flood spread throughout the hallway, the laundry room, the maintenance room, the kitchen and several students’ rooms in the Mount Vernon residence hall’s basement.
Freshman Marne Taylor said she and the basement’s other seven residents spent Sunday night bunking in their friends’ rooms in Cole and other residence halls.
“We decided it probably was not safe to stay down there,” Taylor said.
Taylor and her sophomore roommate Jessica Traub moved into emergency housing in Somers Hall Tuesday, where they can stay until the end of the week. The pair was told they can permanently move into one of the small halls on the Vern hillsides or Thurston Hall for the same housing cost, but must pay the $1,500 difference if they choose to stay in Somers Hall.
The freshman contacted facilities Sunday morning when she saw sewage coming from drains in her sink, shower and toilet.
Jill Sankey, a spokeswoman for the University, said facilities began working on the problem Sunday afternoon. Facilities brought in an additional contractor Sunday night, who pumped excess waste from the area.
Taylor said the maintenance workers arrived Sunday afternoon prepared to fix a toilet, not a flood.
“He brought a plunger, a coat-hanger and a plastic bag,” she said.
Sunday afternoon, a team of contractors, maintenance and housekeeping workers came in and out of the building, but no official word from GW came on the health hazards.
Taylor and the other students did not receive a response after making several calls to University health services.
Facilities Services contractor Lauren Orvis e-mailed Cole Hall residents Sunday night advising students that flushing toilets or running faucets could exacerbate the problem, although the water was not shut off.
Junior Stefen Oswald, a resident on the first floor, said he found fecal matter in the water when he turned on the sink the next day.
Sankey said the University cleaned only one of five rooms on the basement level Monday morning. The other rooms were unoccupied at the time.
The University sanitized all hard surfaces and treated carpets in the basement area “to ensure thorough cleaning and removal of odors,” Sankey said.