Colleges determine hurricane damage, seek help in repair and damages

By Staff Writer
September 23, 2004

Colleges are measuring the toll from recent hurricanes to Florida campuses in the millions of dollars as schools seek state and federal help to replace everything from exercise bikes and computers to rooftops and fences.

The University of Central Florida in Orlando appears to have fared the worst so far out of the state’s schools, with more than $8 million in damages. In Sanford, Fla., Seminole Community College’s estimate: $1.5 million.

Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., sustained up to $350,000 in damage from toppled fences, flooded basements, ripped-up roofs and landscape ravages.

“It’s by far the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Jim Beasley, a Stetson vice president who has been with the school for 31 years.

Valencia Community College, also in Orlando, has not fully assessed its damages, officials said Friday. Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., suffered only minimal hits, and officials expected no financial impact.

But colleges said other costs, in some cases staff labor or lost revenue from merchandise or food sales, could drive hurricane impact costs even higher.

The Florida Department of Education officials said Friday that no detailed or general estimates on damage to the higher-education system are available.

State and private colleges are expecting to get relief for most, if not all, of the damage from insurance and state and federal funds. UCF officials said they would also seek more than $13 million in aid to bolster protections on campus against the next storm.

Some of the more costly campus destruction was structural. Hurricane Charley inflicted severe roof damage to UCF’s student Recreation and Wellness Center, estimated at $2.7 million for repairs.

Frances followed up, causing water damage to many UCF buildings, including its library and classrooms.

The hurricanes were “our single biggest loss due to weather or any other cause,” said Jim Uhlir, UCF’s director of Environmental Health and Safety.

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