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FEMA sharing costs of $7M repairs

The director of Facilities, Safety and Risk Management said that Grambling State, with the help of Federal Emergency Management Agency, is in the process of repairing the $7 million in damage caused by the March 9 flood. 

“We are only in Phase One, which is remediation and tear-out of all damages,” said Kevin Tallasken, the new director of Risk Management and Safety at GSU.

A statement released Tuesday, April 26, by the Office of Facilities, Safety and Risk Management detailed the damage in the buildings that were flooded after about 2 feet of rain fell in Lincoln Parish and the surrounding areas.

After the rain receded,  Grambling requested aid from FEMA, and now FEMA is paying 75 percent of the rebuilding costs and Grambling is paying 25 percent.

Charles P. Adams Hall, which houses the College of Education, collected 4 to 8 inches of water, while Woodson, home to the Political Science and Foreign Languages departments, collected between 8 inches and 24 inches of water, leaving everything nearly destroyed on the first floor. 

Equipment such as laptops and file folders were immediately disposed of. 

“Professors who have accumulated 20-30 years of files have been discarded,” said Dr. Willie Larkin, president of Grambling State. 

Even though Woodson previously suffered from mold damage, any type of organic life was killed off and the building required extensive drying procedures. Thirty-one faculty members were relocated to different offices around the campus.

The next step forward in order to keep GSU on track with the progress, Phase Two of the rebuilding process, requires architectural engineers to overlook the work for the restoration not only for Woodson and Adams but the seven other buildings affected as well. 

President Larkin said Woodson will reopen in the fall of 2016. “In no way will the restoration process increase tuition for students.” 

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has hired contractors to remediate buildings. In the meantime, GSU will seek and utilize assistance needed, while maintaining a positive attitude. 

“The tough decisions we have had to make are all safety-related,” Tallasken said.

Additionally, the C.D Henry Natatorium’s set date for demolition is June 1, 2016. Tallasken said the slab has been poured on the left of the natatorium, and that is where the fiber optics of the new natatorium will be housed.  

Tallasken said the university is “hoping we can start construction for the project September 1.” It’s estimated about 300 days for the project to be completed.

Draining is a major concern during rebuilding, Larkin said, noting the need “to prepare the campus and drainage so it can drain large amounts of water” in the event of another catastrophic flood.

 The Office of Facilities and safety are hard at work to establish realistic and concrete goals for GSU. Tallasken together with Jeffery Sims (Daily operations Manager of the department of Facilities.) Not only want to fix the flooding problem but also “wants to make a difference.” in helping GSU but also to “retain its beautiful History.” Says Tallasken. With students taking final exams, and graduation vastly approaching “it’s been challenging to get everything ready for these very important events.” Larkin said.