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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

UH getting $21M in flood relief

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i is slated to receive about $21.2 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement money to help the Manoa campus recover from flooding in October 2004 that destroyed laboratories, washed away years of research and ravaged the university's flagship library, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye said yesterday.

Of the money the university will receive, $13.2 million will help replace the thousands of books, maps, government documents and historic photos that were destroyed or damaged in the basement of Hamilton Library during the flood, according to a written statement from Inouye.

The remainder of the FEMA reimbursement money will cover costs that exceed the insurance cap for emergency measures, building repairs and content replacement, including research laboratories.

"We're certainly overjoyed, and we have appreciated that the senator has been there trying to make us whole from this event," said Bob Schwarzwalder, assistant university librarian.

Insurance money and FEMA reimbursement will replace, at most, 75 percent of collection losses, Schwarzwalder said.

"So there is a very big outstanding deficit," he said.

Total damage on the Manoa campus is estimated to be $80 million, said Sam Callejo, UH vice president for administration. That figure does not include intellectual property losses for UH researchers.

The state received $25 million from its insurance policy to cover losses at the university, Callejo said.

After insurance and FEMA money are subtracted, that leaves $34 million to be funded somehow, he said.

"The remainder is what the state is having to foot the bill for," he said.

The FEMA money reimburses the university for money already spent or in the process of being spent, Callejo said. Inouye requested the money from FEMA as part of the final version of the fiscal year 2006 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.

"With the help of FEMA's Public Assistance Program, UH is getting back on its feet and is moving forward," Inouye said.

Callejo said most of the money would be used in the more devastated area of the campus Hamilton Library. He said the money is much needed.

The library is in the process of architectural planning for the basement space where the library science program and library collections will again be housed, Schwarzwalder said. The library also is in the procurement stage for a separate utility building that will house the chiller plant for the library's air-conditioning system and transformers.

The library also is considering measures to protect the itself against future flood damage, Schwarzwalder said.

On Oct. 30, 2004, nearly 10 inches of rain sent Manoa Stream over its banks and rampaging through the valley, knocking out power to more than 35 buildings on campus, damaging more than 120 homes in the valley, destroying UH research laboratories and, in many cases, setting the work of UH scientists back months or years.

Most of the damage to the Manoa campus has since been repaired, but the university continues to struggle with replacing space for its researchers and rebuilding the destroyed basement of Hamilton Library.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.