Students left in the dark after Hawthorne and Covington flood

Trenedy Parks, Staff Writer

On Christmas Day, Rady Smith, a second-year student, had to hastily collect everything she deemed “essential” out of her dorm room, where the water rushing out of the light fixtures, vents, windows and sprinklers gave the appearance of an indoor rainstorm. 

Over Christmas break, the men’s side of Covington Hall and the women’s side of Hawthorne Hall both flooded. The problem seemed to be that the sprinkler system burst due to the sub-freezing temperatures that overtook Florence during the break. Housing and Residence Life declined an interview on the matter, as did the maintenance department. 

Smith said that on Christmas Eve she received a FaceTime call from one of her roommates. 

“There was water pouring out of the sprinkler system and the light fixtures, and nobody knew what was going on,” Smith said. “My entire room was like one big puddle.” 

She showed up the next day to ask maintenance what they needed her to retrieve from her room. She was told to just grab what she needed. Once she gathered her things – which she said were not damaged, just wet –  she and her roommate asked what was going to happen next. 

“[My roommate] and I asked a woman, who was out in the lobby, about a timeline,” Smith said. “She was rude and raised her voice at us and said ‘I don’t know. I just got called in and I’m sick.’”

Smith reiterated that the maintenance workers seemed aggressive and panicked, while the resident advisors and outside contractors were nice and professional during the process. 

The university did not inform anybody of the event until around two hours later. 

The next time Smith returned to the dorm, all of her furniture and personal belongings had been moved out of her room, and a majority of them had been taken to the basement. She was not informed of her belongings being moved until two days after the initial event.

Housing and Residence life provided Smith and the other affected students alternative rooms in their respective buildings. University workers informed her that the rooms would not be ready until right before the Spring semester began. Holding true to that word, the university gave them the clear to move back into their rooms the week that classes began. 

Smith said that the university did not move the displaced items back into the rooms, leaving it up to the residents. Maintenance repainted and replaced all damaged property that was owned by the university.