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One year after microburst, recovery progresses

Though there are few visual reminders of the violent microburst that ripped through Mount Oread last March, the recovery is still in progress.

Repairs are being wrapped up to buildings that were damaged March 12, 2006 when a microburst swept across Lawrence with winds in excess of 80 mph, causing an estimated $6 million in damage to campus. Jim Modig, director of Design and Construction Management, said most of the repair work has been completed, and the rest will be finished soon.

The majority of damage was to roofs, and all but two that needed work have been either completed or started, Modig said, and the two that haven't, Budig Hall and Allen Fieldhouse, will be open for bids for work soon, Modig said. About 20 buildings have been completed.

Funding for the repairs was helped greatly by assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Theresa Gordzica, chief financial officer, said FEMA is funding 75 percent of the eligible repairs, or about $4.7 million. That figure includes $200,000 for cleanup costs and emergency protective measures in the wake of the storm. The remaining 25 percent, approximately $1,355,636 was provided by the State Finance Council, Gordzica said. The remaining $600,000 in damage was to housing and other campus facilities that were covered by the university's insurance.

Even though repairs are not complete on many buildings, steps were taken to ensure they were ready to endure winter weather conditions.

The temporary repairs included making sure moisture from snow and rain would not enter the buildings. There were no major incidents of moisture leaks among the temporary repairs.

A number of factors — winter weather chief among them— slowed progress.

Snow, rain and cold kept crews off roofs through most of December and January.

The distinct red tiles that cover many campus roofs are not easy to come by. The clay tiles can take six to eight weeks to be delivered, and cement tiles that are found on roofs such as Dyche Panorama, Bailey and Budig Halls are no longer manufactured. Modig said some roof tiles have been recycled to compensate for shortages.

While roofs sustained the brunt of the damage, many windows were hit hard too. Windows on the south side of Marvin Hall were recently replaced, and glass in Eaton Hall that was "pitted" by flying debris has been fixed as well.

Perhaps the most pressing issue is lightning safety. Roofs have to be inspected by a subcontractor to receive UL, or lightning safety certification. To do that, a subcontractor has to be flown in, and it makes the most sense to inspect several at one time, Modig said.

March came in like a lion last year, but Modig said he is hoping it is calmer this year to allow the storm recovery to be finished.

"When the weather clears up, the repair crews will be back to finish them up. We hope to have all of the roofs done late this summer," he said.

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