At least four residents of Janie Poole Brown Hall in the Oaks Area apartment complex at Elon University packed their belongings today and vacated their first-floor apartment after sewage water seeped from the shower drain and saturated their living space.
Sophomore Margaret Bryant, junior Jessica Edwards and their two other roommates have temporarily relocated to Trollinger House while Physical Plant repairs the damage to the bathroom, carpet and flooring caused by the contaminated water. Physical Plant estimated it will take about five days to complete the repairs.
Edwards and Bryant live in apartment 109 of Brown Hall, formerly Oaks E. Apartment 110 was also affected.
Bryant and Edwards have had plumbing problems since moving into their apartment late last month. They said the shower drain initially regurgitated a small amount of water that eventually flowed back into the pipes, but the situation quickly got worse. Green fluid began seeping from the drain, and late last week, sewage water stemming from the drain flooded the bathroom and the area around it.
“Physical plant came on Friday morning and worked for a few hours on the problem, but water started come up again on Friday night,” Bryant said. “On Saturday morning, I heard a knock and I got out of bed and when I opened the door (to my room), there was a river of sewage water in our hallway.”
Edwards said the water both looked and smelled as if it contained human excrement.
“We’ve seen debris, we’ve seen yellowish brownish water,” she said. “It’s not what should be coming out of the shower. It smells like what should go down the toilet.”
Physical Plant attempted to dry and clean the affected area, but Bryant said both the smell and the dampness haven’t yet dissipated.
“At this point we’re just worried about the contamination,” Bryant said. “We were warned to wear shoes and to not go barefoot in that area at all.”
Physical Plant attributed the plumbing backup to the improper disposal of feminine hygiene products. Neither Robert Buchholz, director of Physical Plant, nor Mark Terrell, utilities maintenance manager, were available for comment at the time of publication.
Senior Ashley Watkins, a housing assistant for the Brown apartment building, sent an email to the building’s residents warning them to dispose of feminine hygiene products in a waste receptacle, rather than the toilet, in an effort to prevent future backups.