Rachel Byrd, News Desk Lead
The rains of Tropical Storm Imelda seeped into four classrooms, ten offices, and the basketball court at Lone Star College-Kingwood, causing approximately $115,000 worth of damages to the campus.
Damaged buildings include Classroom Building A, the Library building, and the Fitness Training Center.
According to Eddie McFadden, the Director of Facilities at LSC-Kingwood, the majority of the leaks were related to damages caused by Hurricane Harvey.
During the post-Harvey rebuild, the outsides of these buildings were not repaired in favor of repairing the interior.
This is not the case for every leak, however. Some of the leaks, according to Richard Almstedt, the department chair for kinesiology and dance at LSC-Kingwood, were noticed decades before even Hurricane Harvey struck the campus.
“I came here from North Harris in 1992, and the windows and the roof were leaking when I came in ’92,” says Almstedt.
Because he knew about the leaks in the basketball court in the Fitness Training Center beforehand, Almstedt expected there to be serious damage.
“When we met with the architect and they talked about putting in wood floors, I was excited because they were much better and much safer as far as injuries go,” says Almstedt, “but I also pointed out that if we didn’t fix the leaks in the windows and the roof, the floor would warp.”
Almstedt’s predictions came true after Tropical Storm Imelda, although initially he was told the roof and windows had sealed out the rain. However, there was an invisible leak that caused the floors to warp.
“I have been told it was the windows, I have also been told it was the roof, and I’ve also been told it came up through the bricks on the bottom, so I’m not sure,” says Almstedt.
Other leaks in the Fitness Training Center can be found around the skylights and under the floor of the dance studio, which has a similar wooden floor to the basketball court.
According to Eddie McFadden, it will probably cost another $30,000 to replace the floor of the basketball court.
The Fitness Training Center is not the only area of concern. Leaks along the roof of Classroom Building A have caused damage to classrooms along the second floor hallway.
Jared Miller, a psychology professor at LSC-Kingwood, teaches in one of the more heavily damaged classrooms.
Miller had reported similar leaks and stains on the ceiling of his classroom as early as May 2019, although it was not until later that it became an obvious problem. During one of his lectures in June 2019, he watched a stain spread across the ceiling tiles.
“About ten minutes before the end of class, [the ceiling] just crumbled,” says Miller.
No students were injured in the incident and the ceiling tiles were quickly replaced, but the roof above them was not repaired.
This lack of repairs led to a similar situation in the wake of Tropical Storm Imelda—though this time, the ceiling did not collapse during class.
The office of history professor Stephen Davis in the Library building also took water damage during the storm.
Like Miller, Davis had noticed damage during the heavy rains in May. Before that, however, his office had not taken water damage in the roughly 20 years he had spent in that office.
“Indeed, I think it was not until the fall semester started that they replaced those ceiling tiles, but then it happened again,” says Davis.
This time, Davis had some forewarning from Katherine Persson, the president of LSC-Kingwood.
Persson, according to Davis, was “perturbed” about the state of the damage to the campus.
“The fundamental problem of whatever the issue is with the roof… never got fixed,” says Davis.
According to Eddie McFadden, the roofs of CLA and the Library building will likely be replaced in the next 12 to 18 months.
All of the funding to repair the damage should come from insurance and unallocated funds, meaning the price of tuition will not rise because of Tropical Storm Imelda.
“We’re having to scrape up the money, so to speak,” says McFadden. He adds, “We pretty much tighten our belts and try to keep everything within our budget.”
This will mean some interior updates, such as painting and flooring replacements, will have to be pushed back another year.