East Wheelock damage and cost still unknown

by Emma Demers | 10/14/16 12:35am

Almost two weeks after the four-alarm fire in Morton Hall, former residents are still adjusting. All 67 students have been relocated to new housing in places such as neighboring McCulloch Hall, as well as apartments on South Park Street. Although many students have not yet claimed any financial assistance, assistant dean and director of case management Kristi Clemens said that students can receive reimbursements from the College for any damages incurred.

As students get their affairs in order, the College continues to assess the building damages and eventual recovery process.

Frank Roberts, the associate vice president of Facilities Operations and Management, said that the damage done to Morton was extensive, and that most of the carpet and sheet rock will have to be removed and dried out. Only after the building is dried out with commercial dryers can a complete evaluation be made.

Roberts said that the engineering firm Harriman — which has a location in Portsmouth, New Hampshire — is designing a permanent fix for Morton. He added that the time-frame and overall cost of rebuilding Morton are unknown at this time due to ongoing evaluations.

Student Financial Services and the Student Affairs department can reimburse victims within 24 hours of the request and deposit money directly into their student tuition accounts.

“I don’t need receipts, I don’t need anything,” Clemens said. “I’m asking students to estimate how much money they need to replace items that are damaged or are completely destroyed.”

She said much of this money comes from the Office of the President’s emergency fund, which has received contributions from several anonymous donors.

“We’ve had alums and other donors come to the College and say, ‘We want to help. We don’t want our name on this, we just want to do what’s right to replace whatever students need,’” Clemens said.

To Regina Yan ’19, the College’s support was comprehensive.

“The college has helped me replace everything,” she said. “Electronics-wise, they gave out loaners, and then the computer store helped us fix them.”

Clemens stressed the fact that financial reimbursement is an ongoing process that students should take advantage of if they need something.

According to the Office of Risk and Internal Controls Services, personal property in College buildings is not covered by the College’s insurance. The office recommends that faculty, students and staff who keep personal belongings in College spaces purchase their own insurance.

Clemens said that although the Student Affairs department is offering reimbursements, it still recommends that students check if they have renter’s insurance. She explained that many of these insurance companies have high deductibles — which require families to pay thousands out of their own pockets before receiving coverage — but “Dartmouth is able to close that gap.”

Yan and other Morton students have received an outpouring of financial support from the campus community as well. Theta Delta Chi, Gamma Delta Chi and Chi Heorot fraternities started a joint GoFundMe campaign for Morton victims that has already raised more than $4,400. Meanwhile, Alpha Xi Delta sorority is running a clothing drive to support those who lost many of their belongings.

The American Red Cross New Hampshire and Vermont Region offices have also been accepting donations for those affected by the Morton fire.

Jonah Cohen ’19, who received aid from the Red Cross chapter, said he did not have to pay for much out of his own pocket. He added that, while the College took some time to organize its relief response, its help has been tremendous.

“They’re really trying to go above and beyond to make up for it, which is nice,” he said.