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UWS Continues Flood Repairs Two Years Later

Updated: 06/18/2014 6:28 PM
Created: 06/18/2014 5:33 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

Two years ago, like much of the Northland, parts of UW-Superior were under water.

University officials say the flood caused $25 million in damage, making it the largest insurance claim in state property history. The campus sustained damage to several buildings, including the Halbert Heating Plant, which had multiple stories submerged.

The building damage has been repaired but work on the flooded steam lines, which carry the steam throughout campus to heat all off the buildings, are still underway.

"There was a lot of damage that people didn't see," explained facilities project manager Dustin Johnson.

Johnson said it has been an extensive two-year project. The campus has 12,000 linear feet of underground steam pipe. Crews have had to go underground, cut open the concrete vault, inspect the pipe, and replace any bad pipe.

"Some of the pipes we haven't looked at in 50 years, so it's an opportunity for us to go through to change out pipe and change out the infrastructure," said Johnson.

While fixing the lines and doing other repairs, Tom Fennessey, the director of facilities management, said they are also making changes to help prevent damage if a flood were ever to happen again.

"With some of our projects that need to be repaired we are taking it one step farther with working with the state and trying to improve it as we do the remodeling to make it better," said Fennessey.

Some of those improvements include raising man holes two feet up and adding bulkheads to campus buildings.

And inside the library, the basement once again holds books. During the flood, the bottom floor of the library was six feet under water.

"It's taken about two years for us to work with the academic departments to replace the core books that we need to, looking at what we ordered in the last 10 years and replacing those, and then really building up our electronic subscription base," said Lynne Williams, the director of communications at UWS.

The water destroyed 145,000 books, nearly the entire collection of books at the university. Now, the basement holds about 23,000 books.

The UWS librarian said students tend to go online for books now, so instead of replacing all of the actual books, they've purchased almost 281,000 electronic books.

Johnson said the steam line project will wrap up mid-August.

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