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By Craig Anderson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 13, 1998

Few students file flood damage claims

Six weeks after a broken toilet flooded five floors and about 60 rooms in Coronado Residence Hall, only 14 students have filed property damage claims.

Alan Lee, University of Arizona Risk Management's insurance officer, said since the rooms are double-occupancy, as many as 120 students could have filed claims by now.

Lee said the limited response is probably a combination of practicality and laziness.

"For many, mopping up and washing stains out of their clothes were enough," he said. "I suspect we've heard from all those with major damage, but if people procrastinate, there's not much anyone can do about it."

Lee said the 14 claims totaled about $20,000. Six of those claims have already been paid.

A resident assistant was trying to fix a fourth-floor toilet at Coronado Jan. 27 when the toilet valve broke off, sending water gushing out of the pipe for about 20 minutes.

By the time the Tucson Fire Department arrived and turned off the building's main water valve, water was ankle-deep in several rooms.

About a week after the flooding, state Risk Management officials found the UA negligent and agreed to pay for student property damage.

UA Director of Residence Life Jim Van Arsdel said he wasn't sure why so few students had filed damage claims.

"We thought they would do it immediately to make up for their loss," he said.

Criminal justice freshman Adam Carpenter was the first to turn in a damage claim and get paid, Lee said.

According to Carpenter, damage to his computer, graphing calculator and other items amounted to more than $2,000.

He received a check for the full amount within 10 days.

Carpenter said filing the claim was not a hassle, and he couldn't believe his fellow residents were lazy in filling out the necessary forms.

"I'm surprised, because people were down at the front desk bitching and screaming 'damage' every day for a long time," he said. "That's pretty pathetic."

Nutritional science freshman Amanda Gwinnup said that although the flood soaked many of her clothing items, the damage wasn't serious enough to prompt her to file a claim.

"It took a couple of weeks to get the smell out, but our stuff is pretty much back to normal," she said. "It just wasn't worth it overall."

Communications freshman Nicole Tsardoulias said her property sustained minor water damage, but she put off filing a claim since the initial excitement of the incident wore off.

"I got over it fast, and realized it wasn't that important," she said.

Lee said he was not surprised that so few students took the state's reimbursement offer.

"It's like a mail-in rebate coupon for $3," he said. "It sounds good at the grocery store, but then you get home and decide it's not worth the bother."

Residents with flood-damaged property still have until late July to complete their claims, Lee said.

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