By Emily Slater, Editor-in-Chief
Current state of the Lone Star College- Kingwood Campus on Sept 8. Photos by Marcela Macias.
Damage from floods originating from Hurricane Harvey will cost an estimated $10 million and months of repair and rehabilitation to fix, said Katherine Persson, Lone Star College-Kingwood President during a news conference at the Student Conference Center, Friday
“We don’t have control of so many things, but what we are in control of, we’re going ninety to nothing,” Persson said of restoration plans for the campus.
Six of the nine buildings on campus, including Classroom Building A, Health Science Building, Fitness Center, Classroom Building B, Library, and Performing Arts Center, sustained major
flooding on their first floors, according to a press release from LSC-Kingwood. Flood levels reached from two to four feet in the affected buildings. Since the flood water was polluted by raw sewage from a nearby processing plant, every flooded building is a biohazard, Persson said.
Blackmon Mooring & BMS CAT, a 24-hour emergency response service specializing in water damage restoration, has two teams of employees working around the clock, each working a twelve-hour shift. The work is continuous, Persson said.
The first phase toward restoring the campus, which includes cleaning out the damaged and toxic parts of the buildings, will take approximately six weeks, she said. Fixing the damage will take months.
According to a statement from Lone Star College Chancellor, Steve Head, the campus will not be reconstructed until Spring 2018. Despite the challenge, the semester still needed to start, Persson said.
“Closing down for the semester is not an option,” Persson said. “We have 1,200 employees and 13,000 students. We didn’t want to disrupt their lives anymore,”
As a result, most of the more than 1,200 classes this semester have been converted into online classes, a move that has confused and frustrated some students.
“We know students are frustrated. We’re trying to be as transparent as possible,” said Executive Director of Media Relations at LSC-Kingwood, Henry Garcia.
Persson said all the classrooms used for health care programs, where some of the most expensive equipment on campus was housed, also flooded. High tech dummies that allowed health care program students create as close to a real human experience as possible were covered in cotton sheets and plastic wrap and strewn about outside the building.
On Friday, workers dressed in white, zip up sterile suits, entered buildings that once hosted classes. At the library, piles of waterlogged books were catalogued by an army of workers. Inside, every computer was destroyed by flood waters. Large yellow tubes stuck out of buildings, and odd pieces of machinery used to clean out the water damaged buildings laid all around. Large areas of the campus were fenced off. Every entrance was closed, with a police officer stationed at one gate allowing authorized personnel through.
Although only the first floor of two story buildings were impacted, employees still can not access the second floor. The first floors are biohazards.
Many faculty diplomas and pieces of art were left on the walls when the flood hit.
“The ones that have been damaged are being restored, and the others are packaged and being sanitized,” Persson said.
Administrators are determined to see the campus return to normal as quickly and as smoothly as possible.