Displaced Oak Street residents share their experiences

The flood at Oak Street Hall is the third incident in seven years.

Cassandra Ludwig

Earlier this month, UMKC informed the residents of Oak Street Hall that flooding in the building had damaged many rooms on all five floors of the north and west wings. The university had to provide alternate living arrangements for about 150 students affected by the incident.

“I didn’t have much of a reaction when I first heard about the flooding,” said Mary Gipson, a former Oak Street resident. “I received the initial email and thought, ‘Oh no, I live in the northwest wing,’ but after I didn’t get the follow-up email that was promised to the students whose rooms had been affected, I figured nothing had happened to my room.”

Due to lack of communication and short notice, not all students got the email moving them out of their dorm.

“I found out two or three days before the move-in that I would be relocated, it was quite a shock,” said Gipson. “I actually had to reach out to the front desk in an email a few days before semester started before anyone told me that my suitemate, roommate and I were being relocated because of the water damage.”

UMKC sent out housing assignments on Jan. 12, relocating students to Johnson Hall and Hospital Hill apartments.

“I was not surprised to hear that I had to move,” said Francesca Makuch, another former Oak Street resident. “I will say it was a bit of a stress from the initial ‘pipes bursting’ email to be sent, then a couple days later I finally learned I would have to move.”

Needing to work quickly and limit the damage, the school hired a moving company to remove all the students’ personal items from their dorms and into their new living places. Not everything went according to plan, however.

“I had around 30 items missing,” Makuch said. “After I emailed housing individually, I was able to get some of my items back, but not all of them, so that is rather unfortunate.”

Additionally, many students were separated from their original roommates and placed with random students.

“Recently my roommate transferred to a different college, so I finally had my own room,” Makuch said, “only to realize that I would have to be moved away from a room I was comfortable with to a new room with new people.”

The stress didn’t just end after the initial incident, as students had to worry about challenges in their new residences.

“I am no longer with my roommate from Oak Street Hall, and I now have to commute,” Gipson said.  “I had to go through all of my stuff as soon as I got into my new place because I had to sort through all the boxes in the new room to see if housing had accidentally given me anything of my previous roommate’s belongings when they packed up our stuff.”

While there have been some complications with the flooding and moving, some students have still managed to find a bright side.

“I enjoy the people I am around on my wing, and I am thankful they are all so cheerful,” Makuch said. “It made moving a lot easier with all the positive energy I was surrounded by.”

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