Heavy spring rain causes flooding in student storage
Last spring’s heavy rainfall disrupted Thurtene Carnival and put a damper in trips to class. It also had devastating consequences for some students who had stored with UTrucking, the student-owned and student-run storage business on the South 40.
Returning students were in for a surprise. Sophomore Vera Xiao returned to campus early on August 23 to find that her UTrucking boxes had arrived on time.Her suitcase of winter jackets and formal dresses, however, reeked of mold that stunk like “rotten eggs.”
Xiao was not alone. Nearly 10 percent of UTrucking customers found their possessions water-damaged and covered in mold, though only two percent of all boxes had been damaged, according to junior J.D. Ross, UTrucking’s chief financial officer.
Reports of water-damage led UTrucking to check the boxes of remaining customers, finding that water had leaked into approximately 12 of its 120 vaults.
Students may be reimbursed for the damage. UTrucking’s insurance policy allows $100 per stored item. Otherwise, students may file a claim along with pictures and descriptions that indicate the value of the damaged items. The claims will be sent to UTrucking’s insurance company.
“I got the initial reimbursement [of $100], I’m just waiting to get back everything else from the insurance company,” sophomore Alice He said. “It’s a hassle, but it’s not really their fault. It’s just annoying for me, annoying for the company and annoying for everyone that’s involved.”
Damages filed by students range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Although He and Xiao are hoping to replace their items with the refunded money, some students found their items irreplaceable. Damages to precious artwork and gifts from loved ones made the past few weeks an emotional ride for many.
“It’s heartbreaking, but we’re doing everything we can,” Ross said. “We’re working our butts off to make sure this gets fixed.”
Since the incident, UTrucking has been helping students take pictures, fill out insurance claim forms and do its best to assuage students’ and parents’ concerns. Their customer service website has been very responsive, quickly answering questions, sometimes even within the hour.
“[UTrucking] was being so gracious and so nice,” He said. “[My parents] understand. It wasn’t like someone purposefully damaged it.”
UTrucking’s vaults are temporarily stored on a North Campus parking lot for a few days while boxes are loaded. It is believed that the combination of heavy rainfall and a clogged drain due to nearby construction caused the water to rise into the vaults, despite the fact that vaults are raised four to six inches above the ground.
“By the time we got there the next day, the water was lower than the vaults again. We checked a couple of the vaults and saw no damage,” Ross said. “When we came back [in August] and opened them up, we slowly found more and more [damage].”
With regards to health safety on campus, UTrucking has not dropped off boxes that they have later found to be damaged with mold.
“It was unforeseen, and unforeseeable,” Ross said. “In 20 years, it’s never happened.”