Florence dam­age about $140M at UNCW

The News & Observer - - Front Page - BY JANE STANCILL js­tan­cill@new­sob­server.com

Hur­ri­cane Florence caused about $140 mil­lion in dam­age at UNC Wilm­ing­ton, and univer­sity lead­ers say they hope to ac­com­plish re­pairs with a com­bi­na­tion of in­sur­ance claims, state fund­ing and help from FEMA.

The big-ticket item was Dobo Hall, the large science build­ing that lost part of its roof and was ru­ined by 25-35 inches of wa­ter in­side. It will have to be al­most gut­ted and re­built at a cost of about $60 mil­lion, said UNCW Chan­cel­lor Zito Sartarelli, who called the Dobo dam­age “just a night­mare.” In­sur­ance is ex­pected to cover $32 mil­lion of the cost of the re­pair, which could take two years.

The rest will come from the state. In Oc­to­ber, in a spe­cial ses­sion, the leg­is­la­ture al­lo­cated $30 mil­lion to the UNC Sys­tem and three dam­aged cam­puses, in­clud­ing UNC Pem­broke and Fayet­teville State. UNCW got the bulk of it — $27 mil­lion.

Part of the cost of the Dobo re­pair will be re­in­forc­ing the struc­ture to with­stand a fu­ture Cat­e­gory 3 or Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane, Sartarelli said.

“We want to make sure there’s a roof that can with­stand 130 to 150 miles an hour,” he said.

In the mean­time, stu­dents have spread out to other fa­cil­i­ties for science in­struc­tion. By Jan­uary, mod­u­lar units will be set up for science labs and class­rooms, and by next fall, a tem­po­rary metal build­ing will be erected while the Dobo re­con­struc­tion is un­der way, Sartarelli said. FEMA is help­ing the univer­sity put up the tem­po­rary fa­cil­i­ties.

Sartarelli said in­sur­ance will cover $80 mil­lion to $100 mil­lion in dam­age at the univer­sity. FEMA will kick in a lit­tle for de­bris re­moval and other ex­penses.

The univer­sity also lost 13 apart­ment build­ings on cam­pus to wa­ter dam­age. At­tempts to clean them and make them safe for stu­dents didn’t work, Sartarelli said.

Five of the build­ings had been on sched­ule for de­mo­li­tion any­way. Now, all 13 will be torn down, to make way

for a new com­plex with 1,800 beds to be built through a part­ner­ship with pri­vate com­pa­nies that will build a four-build­ing hous­ing de­vel­op­ment on UNCW land the univer­sity leases for the $121 mil­lion project. Con­struc­tion will be­gin in Jan­uary.

For now, stu­dents are tripling and qua­dru­pling up in their dor­mi­to­ries, or stay­ing in nearby ho­tels or apart­ment com­plexes. Next year, UNCW will be able to ac­com­mo­date 400 fewer stu­dents on cam­pus, Sartarelli said, while the new hous­ing is be­ing built. That is likely to mean more ju­niors and se­niors will live off cam­pus.

UNCW stu­dents lost four weeks of the se­mes­ter be­fore and after the hur­ri­cane. The univer­sity had to squeeze 15 weeks of in­struc­tion into 11, by can­cel­ing fall break and some read­ing days, length­en­ing classes and get­ting a waiver for the rest.

Sartarelli said he would ask the leg­is­la­ture for an­other $13 mil­lion in Novem­ber with hopes of be­ing able to re­pair and strengthen some of the older roofs that were dam­aged.

“If for what­ever rea­son we end up us­ing less than what­ever we get from the state gov­ern­ment, we have to re­turn it,” he said.

Miles Lackey, vice chan­cel­lor for busi­ness af­fairs at UNCW, said “hard­en­ing the in­fra­struc­ture” will pro­tect the cam­pus from fu­ture storms.

“We’re only a mile from the At­lantic Ocean,” he said. “We have a lot of our roofing sys­tems that are only rated at 90 miles an hour.”

Be­sides the $30 mil­lion for UNC sys­tem re­pairs after Florence, the leg­is­la­ture also ap­pro­pri­ated $2 mil­lion in schol­ar­ship grants for stu­dents af­fected by the hur­ri­cane. The grants are in amounts of up to $1,250.

The money will be al­lo­cated to stu­dents by the in­di­vid­ual cam­puses.

“Hope­fully we’ll have some won­der­ful suc­cess sto­ries in help­ing those stu­dents,” said Kim­berly van Noort, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for aca­demic af­fairs and chief aca­demic of­fi­cer of the UNC Sys­tem.

UNC Board of Gov­er­nors mem­ber Tem­ple Sloan added: “The leg­is­la­ture stepped up in a big way and helped the UNC sys­tem here in a dif­fi­cult time.”

JU­LIA WALL jwall@new­sob­server.com

A pine tree blocked Chan­cel­lor’s Walk, a path­way on UNC Wilm­ing­ton’s cam­pus in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Florence.

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