By Samantha Werkheiser
The fire that struck University Ridge on Feb. 6 is still affecting students almost two months later.
“The fire has thrown my whole world upside down. I had trouble sleeping and I was very stressed and had to miss work and classes, which left me behind. It was a horrible feeling being displaced from and apartment and roommates I considered a family,” said student and former Ridge resident Zakkery Rome.
Rome was not the only student whose life was rocked by the unexpected fire either.
“It was a very traumatic experience for myself and everyone else that lived in the building,” said senior and former Ridge resident Molly Kuhn.
Following the fire, the university tried to find temporary housing for those that would need it.
While many residents stayed with friends, others were accommodated with rooms in the local Budget Inn. Some students were also placed in the part of the Ridge unaffected by the fire or in empty dorm rooms.
“We were put into a hotel for one night, and then immediately placed into another room at the Ridge with random roommates. Thankfully my roommates were completely understanding of what happened, and were extremely helpful with anything I needed,” Kuhn said.
Following the fire, Kuhn and her Ridge roommates made the choice to move to an off-campus apartment.
Kuhn was compensated $2,000 for the rent she had paid to live in the Ridge for the rest of the semester; she immediately put this into rent for her new apartment.
Rome seemed to have a different experience following the fire.
“After the fire I stayed in the Budget Inn I was then moved to Hawthorn Suites, then Laurel Hall then Hemlock suites. This was very stressful and aggravating having to move in and out multiple times without any assistance,” Rome said of his experience following the fire.
Rome also received no compensation for the rent he paid to live in the Ridge because he is still staying on campus.
“I’m so angry because I paid to live in an apartment with everything that comes with it, and have been moved to sharing a small suite without compensation,” he said.
As far as compensation goes, many students in the Ridge had not obtained renters insurance prior to the fire, so the items they lost were not compensated for.
When moving in, students were given forms that suggest obtaining renters insurance.
The form also includes different insurance agencies in which to get renters insurance from.
“I now know that information is within the forms that students sign at the beginning of each semester, but I felt uninformed about exactly what I would need, how to get it and what to cover,” said student and current Ridge resident Caitlyn McAtee.
Overall, students thought that the university handled the fire well based on the circumstances.
“I feel like ESU handled as best as it could, but I always felt I was being kept out of the loop and the source of the fire can still not be determined, which raises my suspicions,” said Rome.
“The rest of the staff at the ridge was incredibly kind hearted to us, and very patient. The only thing that bothered me was the lack of attention from President Welsh during this time. I felt as our president she should have done more for us. I don’t think I even got an email from her,” Kuhn said when asked how she thought the fire was handled.
Both McAtee and Rome also expressed similar sentiments when asked how the university handled the fire.
“I was not contacted by President Welsh personally nor has anyone that I know,” Rome said.
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