Flood Toll at Colorado State Could Reach $100 Million

Article excerpt

What made the flood that hit Colorado State University in Fort Collins July 28 so horrific was its speed. The price tag for damages to the university library alone could run as high as $40 million, due largely to the way the water surged into the building - with no warning and in the middle of the night - scattering books and mangling shelves. University sources said damage across the campus may total more than $100 million.

"If there is any silver lining," said Dean of Libraries Camila Alire, "it's that CSU is in the forefront of disaster preparedness and recovery." The flood waters hit on Alire's "second day of my second week as dean" with such force that "the pressure caused a six-foot hole in the basement wall," through which waters swirled in, unlike the slow rise that characterizes many less-devastating floods.

Water levels in the library basement rose to 10 feet, breaking windows, soaking thin foam walls, snapping aluminum framing, and completely submerging book stacks.

Alire said she was optimistic that perhaps 80% of the Morgan Library's 425,000 damaged volumes would be salvageable. One estimate puts the price tag at $22.5 million, but in mid-August library officials were still reluctant to assign a dollar figure because they were still assessing the damage. Ten percent of the collection - destroyed beyond recovery - has already been discarded, Alire said.

Pumps removed water for two days following the flood, and a crew of 130 from the private firm of Document Reprocessors was engaged to do the "pack out," wrapping the books and putting them six to a box on trucks for transporting to freezers in Denver and Cheyenne. …