HOUGHTON - The smell of smoke still lingers and yellow tape blocks off rooms with piles of debris, but more than 140 students came out Thursday to help move residents out of Heritage Manor in Houghton.
With flashlights in hand and a travel system in place for using the dark stairwells, students from Michigan Technological University donned hard hats and began at 7:30 a.m. by packing boxes full of residents' belongings.
Stationed in blocked-off sections of the parking lot, groups of students helped organize by apartment while they waited for trucks, trailers and vans to load up items to be taken to the next destination.
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Michigan Technological University students carry furniture and personal belongings Thursday for Heritage Manor residents. More than 140 students came to help move the residents out of the building where a fire occurred Aug. 17.
Student Jevon Maddox said it was the least the group could do for the dozens of misplaced residents of Heritage Manor, affected by a fire on the fifth floor Aug. 17.
Maddox was stationed near the front of the parking lot where he taped up brown boxes of items.
"We thought since we were here and close by, we'd help," the second-year student said.
The students were all from Student Life and work on campus as resident assistants and orientation team leaders.
The students started from the ground up, and every time a room was cleared, a voice came across on the mobile radios telling students where to turn next. Piling items neatly in the parking lot, they waited patiently for a truck or trailer to move the items.
"We've been letting families know when their stuff is ready to go," said third-year student Stephanie D'Annunzio, as most residents weren't actually moving the items and the Tech students took over the manual labor.
Each group of students took special care while moving the belongings and some of the items were packed into donated plastic bins.
"They're bringing more stuff down," said third-year student Emily Wolbeck, who gently moved around some items to make room for the incoming plastic boxes.
Fourth-year student Christina Basso brought down a box and stopped to take a break before heading in for more belongings. As they moved things out of the building, she said they were packing things up in boxes.
"The room I'm in is not too horrible," she said of the damage. "They're just trying to get as much as they can out of there. I've heard some of the other rooms are much more smoky and I'm not sure about the other floors. Right now, everybody is trying to work together to get as much stuff out as they can and keep motion going. Keep smiling."
Basso said she's seen some overwhelmed residents while packing their belongings away to be taken from a place they may have been living for years.
"The woman we're working with is very glad we're helping her," she said.
Moving was good practice for the students, as later this week, they will help students move into the residence halls for Orientation Week starting Monday. Classes resume Sept. 4.
"This is reverse move-in," Wolbeck said.
It's uncertain how long it will be before residents are allowed to move back into Heritage Manor. While much of the building is unscathed, water and fire has damaged other parts of the building. The common areas, such as the sitting room, laundry room and reading room have sustained damage and are missing ceiling tiles.
Residents moved out of Wadsworth Hall, where they had stayed since the fire. Their belongings were taken to storage or to their new living locations.