BYU students still displaced by winter break flooding at Liberty Square

Residents gather at Liberty Square. Liberty Square is a popular apartment complex for BYU students. (Image courtesy of Find My Place)

Flooding at a Liberty Square apartment building in Provo displaced residents over winter break and repairs are ongoing, leaving some students scrambling for a place to sleep.

According to emails sent to residents, a fire suppression system froze and burst in an upper level apartment on Dec. 26, 2023, leading to water damage in the whole building. 

About 72 residents have already been displaced for one month of the new semester, and have just received an email that renovations for some of the units will take an additional six to eight weeks. 

Among those displaced is BYU student Elijah Silva, an English major from Mapleton, who had visited his apartment to pick up an Xbox, only to discover the flooding before he saw the email from his apartment manager.

“I get out of the car, I walk up, I hear fire alarms going off, but I don’t see smoke or anything. So I’m like, it sounds like it’s another building. I walk up and outside my door, there’s a light fixture and there’s water coming out of it,” Silva said.

Water flowed freely through light fixtures and other openings. The extent of water damage to residents’ personal belongings is unknown. (Elijah Silva)
The broken sprinkler system leaks water. Most students were celebrating Christmas with their families when the flooding started. (Elijah Silva)

Liberty Square provided the residents with a free month of rent or the option to terminate their housing contract.

Because his family lives nearby, Silva was able to go back to his apartment with his family and pack up all of his belongings. He moved home and terminated his housing contract.

“Originally, they were like, ‘We’re going to provide alternate living arrangements because you don’t have a place to live,’ and it was the beginning of the semester, so everybody was coming back … then they kind of bailed on that,” Silva said.

Another BYU student, Arthur Prusso, a 21-year-old biodiversity and conservation major, has been “couch surfing” for the last few weeks while he waits for the renovations to be completed.

“I don’t know where I’m going to stay for the rest of this week,” Prusso said. “I think it’s kind of fun, but also not helpful because I have lots of rehearsals and a tour to do.”

Screenshot of a video taken by residents. Repairs are taking much longer than expected. (Elijah Silva)

Prusso, who plays in BYU’s Mountain Strings, stored his instruments and an expensive pedalboard in his apartment. Fortunately, a maintenance worker who lived in the building was going door to door and moving things away from the water when the flooding first started.

The residents’ personal items were put in on-site storage units soon after the flooding started, according to emails. 

“I don’t have any of my things because it’s hard to find them and I don’t have enough time to look,” Prusso said. 

Both students expressed frustration about how the situation was handled and how long the repairs have taken. 

“No walls, no floors, no ceiling, it’s been a month,” Prusso said.

A request to comment was sent to Liberty Square. They responded that they have no comment on the situation.

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