Lizandra Portal/Staff Writer
Hurricane Irma caused significant water damage to Biscayne Bay’s Bayview apartments.
Scott Jones, the director of the Wolfe University Center, confirmed on Tuesday, Sept. 19, that students would be allowed to return to Bayview later in the evening, but the building would be opening up floor by floor. Students have been notified by FIU and Bayview through email.
However, there are still roughly seven apartments that have suffered more damage than others and are still undergoing tests to clear them for safety. The students in those apartments have been personally contacted and Bayview will be able to accommodate them in other apartments within the building.
However, students were not left to fend for themselves and accommodations were made, according to Jones.
“As we received notification that students were unable to move into Bayview, we created temporary shelter for residents that needed accommodations that didn’t have somewhere else to go,” Jones said. “We are providing cot accommodations for them along with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we’ve kept the facility open for 24 hours. We have staff in the area along with public safety insuring folks’ safety.”
Air quality tests were run throughout the building on Monday, Sept. 18, according to Jones, but the tests deemed the building unfit to accept returning students that day.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about ensuring that as our students return they’ve got a safe and comfortable location to go,” Jones said. “So, we were excited to be able to jump in and assist.”
Students who had to evacuate the Biscayne Bay campus, which was a mandatory evacuation zone, were given notices via email as to when they could return to their apartments.
“The building was supposed be ready [Sunday, September 17] at 2 p.m.,” said Heissel Mayorga, a junior hospitality major who lives in Bayview. “I got here at 2:30 p.m. and they weren’t allowing anyone in and we got an email around 2:36 p.m. saying that the only reason we could come in was to get our books for a quick 20 to 30 minutes and then that’s it, you had to leave.”
Destinee Gutierrez, a junior hospitality major who also lives in Bayview said that she received emails every single day about the situation.
“They said that you had to be aware that there might be workers coming in and out of your apartment, which we were fine with because we just wanted to come back,” Gutierrez said. “But then to get that email at 2:30 p.m. saying they changed the plan was a little ridiculous, in my opinion.”
Students were lined up on Sunday, Sept. 17, in the hot sun, according to Mayorga, and only 10 students were allowed in every half hour so they could collect more of their belongings.
The damage to the building was not fully disclosed to Bayview residents who hadn’t gone into the building yet.
“They’ve been pretty secretive regarding the damage,” said Gutierrez. “But they did say that some rooms have damage, there is some flooding, water damage to the flooring, but they haven’t specifically said what’s wrong with each apartment, or the extent of the damage.”
Opened in August 2016, Bayview is a $60 million “nine-story, state-of-the-art apartment complex strategically built with sweeping views of Biscayne Bay,” with 410 bedrooms in 154 apartment units, according to news.fiu.edu, that was created through a public-private partnership with Servitas.
A major concern to Bayview residents is the monetary aspect of the situation. Both Gutierrez and Mayorga were forced to purchase renter’s insurance in their first year living in Bayview, but not for this year.
“We don’t know if it’s included in the price, or contract, this year because the prices did go up,” said Mayorga.
Mayorga and Gutierrez believe pricing will be the last thing they will be informed about.
Leo Cosio, the SGC-BBC president, looked at the housing lease with the housing senator, Jonathan Espino, and found a clause stating that the private company which oversees Bayview, Servitas, must provide their residents with alternative forms of housing.
“What we have now here at Wolfe [University Center], those approximately 70 students, that is not Bayview accommodating them. That is the Wolfe University Center giving up their space to house these students,” Cosio said. “So, I personally haven’t seen Bayview do alternative forms of housing. The alternative to that is for Bayview to reimburse students, according to the lease as I interpreted it.”
Featured Photo by Damian Gordon/PantherNOW