Cloning lab celebrates end of flood restoration
The UH research building completes rebuilding almost a year after the disaster
Even a year later, forecasts of heavy rain make Steve Ward a little nervous.
"I live in Manoa, in faculty housing, and every time it rains, I go out and check the stream," he said. Last year's flood "definitely changed our perception of things."
Ward, interim director of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Biogenesis Research, had been on the job for about a month when Manoa Stream spilled its banks and flooded the research building's ground floor with more than three feet of water.
Today, after months of cleanup, renovation and restoration, faculty members are holding a celebration to thank everyone involved in getting the research building back in business.
"It's a mixed celebration," Ward said, noting that while his building is now OK, there remains much work to be done on other facilities.
The Institute for Biogenesis Research, the university's cloning lab, is among the first buildings at the university to be restored since heavy rain on the night of Oct. 30 led to flooding that caused more than $81 million in damage to the Manoa campus.
A breakdown of the renovation costs for the cloning lab was not immediately available. Reconstruction of the courtyard areas and the ground floor of the main tower at the university's biomedical complex, which includes the lab, was about $6 million, UH spokesman Jim Manke said.
Meanwhile, renovation projects throughout much of the campus continue.
STAR-BULLETIN / NOVEMBER 2004
Two days after last year's Manoa floods, professor Diane Nahl surveyed the destroyed Library and Information Science room in the basement of the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library.
As part of the recovery, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced yesterday that the university could receive as much as $20 million in federal funds to cover the replacement costs of educational and research materials damaged in the flood. A provision for the funding was included in a fiscal year 2006 appropriations bill.
Although no dollar amount is attached, Inouye said he would pursue $10 million that university officials have said is needed to offset costs for replacing educational materials in Hamilton Library and another $10 million for expenses not covered by the university's flood insurance.
Combined with other proposals and grants, the federal government was poised to grant $29.4 million in storm relief, Inouye said.
"I look forward to continuing to work with all levels of government -- federal, state and county -- to ensure a full and complete recovery from last October's flooding," Inouye said in a statement.
Some Manoa residents gathered at a neighborhood board meeting Wednesday night and expressed frustration in what they said was a slow response from the government in dealing with the flood problems.
State Civil Defense officials responded that they were dealing with the problems as best they could with available resources, adding that they expect as much as $3 million in federal funds this fiscal year for flood control projects.
At the Institute for Biogenesis Research, Ward said the recovery went quicker mostly because many involved with the research refused to stand still.
"We just kind of pushed a little bit, gently working with people with the real aloha spirit, and we were lucky," Ward said.
"Before (contractors) got here we ourselves cleaned out the furniture, cleaned everything out," Ward added. "Everybody just wanted something to do because we were dead in the water, and lying on your bed and crying isn't going to help, so we cleaned up the place ourselves and the janitorial staff came in here and helped us."
The cleanup, which included hundreds of volunteers, allowed BMS Catastrophe, a disaster management firm hired by the university, to start on recovery and renovation work immediately, Ward said.
With most of the labs on the second floor, research was able to get restarted as early as May.
In the meantime, administrative offices had to be relocated to drier quarters, making work difficult, Ward said. Like other parts of campus, the lab was running mostly on generators for several months after the flooding.
Today, offices have been restored and equipment replaced at the lab, but not everything was recovered.
"I lost 20 years of reprints of all of my work," Ward said. "They were completely destroyed."
The hardest part, he added, "was just the daily grind of rebuilding, and that took a tremendous effort away from the research."