Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Administration & Finance

From: Ronnie Smith, Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance
Subject:  Hurricane Katrina Recovery – Update #4
Posted: November 11, 2005

During the past two weeks, we have continued to press towards the completion of the various tasks undertaken to complete the initial clean up, make temporary repairs, and to reduce or eliminate additional damage to facilities (from water, mold growth, etc.).  We have also begun to carve out specific permanent repair work that focuses on key components of the buildings’ infrastructure.  Finally, we continue to work closely with a team of people representing the State’s Offices of Facility Planning & Control and Risk Management, FEMA and the LSU Systems Office to monitor, prioritize and push forward key elements of the permanent recovery work.

Understandably, the attention of many faculty members, staff and students has shifted from the some of the immediate and pressing questions of temporary housing and restarting classes to the possible timeline for our return to the New Orleans campus buildings and all the logistics that will entail.  Significant “unknowns” still remain so providing specific projections isn’t yet feasible, but we thought it would be helpful to describe the basic elements that must be addressed before permanent re-occupancy of a typical building can occur.

Switchgear:  Each building receives its electrical power from Entergy through the city-wide power grid.  As the power enters a building, it is routed through a variety of centralized electrical equipment called “switchgear”.  The switchgear receives the power, routes it to a series of other electrical panels, circuit breakers, etc. elsewhere in the building which eventually delivers the power ceiling lights, elevators, blowers, wall sockets, etc.  When immersed under water (especially salt water), the switchgear becomes corroded and fails.  Power can no longer be delivered to the building.

  • The switchgear in each building has been damaged.  Before a building can be occupied, all of its switchgear must be inspected, permanent repairs made and tested, and the repairs inspected. 
  • Once the switchgear is operational, the rest of the electrical system throughout the building must be tested and repaired as needed, although occupancy of the building may not require that all of this work be completed (depending on the specifics of the failures discovered.)

Fire Pump Systems:  Fire codes (generally) require that large buildings have water systems (separate from normal building water) supplying the sprinkler systems and fire hose water supply connections on every floor.  Water pressure requirements cannot be met in upper floors through the basic city water supply system.  Separate, electrically powered water pumps to pressurize the fire system water supply are required to meet fire codes.  These systems also include pump control panels and fire alarm panels.  Without fully functioning fire pump systems, the State Fire Marshal will not issue the necessary occupancy permits.

  • All of the fire pumps in campus buildings were immersed in the flood waters and damaged.  The State Fire Marshal is requiring that all of the fire pumps and related components be replaced to insure that they will operate reliably in an emergency.

Domestic Water Pumps:  The regular water supply to large buildings (providing water to toilets, faucets, etc.) must also be pressurized to provide sufficient water pressure to upper floors.  Electrically powered water pumps are connected to the city water as it enters the building and pressurizes it sufficiently to supply the upper floors.   Health codes require functioning restrooms, etc. before a building can be occupied.

  • All of the domestic water pumps were exposed to the flood waters.  Each pump must be inspected, repairs made or pumps replaced (as needed) and the building water system tested before occupancy will be allowed.

Environmental Remediation:  The extended exposure of basements and 1st floors to standing flood water introduced a number of potential environmental threats.  The presence of mold, trace chemicals, petroleum products, and other issues (some as a result of our particular use of certain buildings) must be identified and addressed before a building can be safely occupied.  

  • An extensive, initial assessment of every building is required; usually by an industrial hygienist.  Based on the sampling and testing, specific environmental issues are identified.  A detailed plan and bid specification for premeditating the identified issues is developed; a bid issued and a contractor hired.  Once the remediation work has been completed, an independent environmental assessment is conducted again to verify that all of the environmental issues have been addressed.  This assessment must be performed in all areas of the building; even areas not thought to have been directly impacted by water or wind damage.

Elevators:  Although all of the buildings include internal stairwells for emergency work, the elevators must be in proper working order and have passed inspection before a building can be reopened.  A variety of building codes come into play, including issues of accessibility (ADA compliance). 

  • Most of the elevators were set to automatically return to their 1st floor location when power was lost.  This resulted in those elevator cars being exposed to the flood waters.  Water also entered and remained in the elevator pits.  Damage often includes damage to elevator doors, safety switches, car rollers, pit buffers and other electrical components.
  • Every elevator in the building must be inspected, damaged components repaired or replaced, and the elevators inspected by the State Elevator Inspector before the building can be re-occupied.

Other Repair/Reconstruction:  The final element of re-occupancy would be the needed repairs or reconstruction of spaces that were damaged by the disaster.  Most of the damage to flooring, walls, ceiling tiles, etc. occurred in the spaces where flood waters intruded, although some buildings also experienced water intrusion through broken and damaged windows, and through roofs that were damaged by wind and debris.   However, it may be possible that these specific repairs may not need to be completed before the otherwise undamaged portions of the building may be returned to use.  It will still be necessary for the elements listed above to be successfully addressed (apart from the repairs of damaged areas) for this approach to be successful.


In light of the above, we have developed a set of strategies that we believe will help to bring major buildings back on line as quickly as possible.  We have identified logical, separate bodies of work related to these key elements and sought the concurrence of the Office of Facility Planning to break key tasks out into separate contracts.  This has allowed some of the strategic work to get underway as quickly as possible.  The following are specific examples of these strategies in action:

  • Work on completing permanent switchgear repairs has been underway at the Resource Center since mid-October and will be completed shortly.
  • Work to make permanent repairs to switchgear at the MEB has recently been completed.
  • A contract to effect permanent switchgear repairs at the Residence Hall, CSRB, Lions Eye Center and Nursing/Allied Health Buildings is currently out on bid.
  • A contract was issued on 10/12/05 to make the permanent repairs to domestic water pumps in the Resource Center, Residence Hall and MEB.
  • A bid solicitation has been issued on 11/10/05 to make permanent repairs to various types of pumps to supply water and heat to the Residence Hall, MEB, CSRB, Lions Eye Center, Nursing/Allied Health, and Resource Center.    
  • Early in October, the existing elevator maintenance contracts were amended to the contractors to make the permanent repairs to the building elevators.  Work began on assessing specific damages to each individual elevator, cost estimates have been developed, parts are being ordered and repairs are beginning as parts are delivered.
  • A contract has been issued to remove and dispose of flood-damaged movable equipment and furnishing (which may be sources of mold, etc.) and work has been underway since 11/4/05.
  • Two bid solicitations were issued on 11/2/05 to remove flood-damaged carpet, wall coverings, etc., which may also be sources of mold and other environmental contaminants.   One addressed the Dental School (which was complicated by the presence of asbestos in the basement) and the other is for the rest of the campus buildings.  Bids are due back on 11/18/05.
  • The Office of Facility Planning & Control has agreed to allow us to use an existing contract with an architect/engineering firm and explore the possibility of (environmentally) sealing off the 1st floor areas of the three primary research buildings (MEB, CSRB, and Lions Eye Center); allowing more rapid occupation of upper floors while the major repair work on the 1st floors is planned, bid and completed.

In the 10/28/05 update, we also shared the general pattern that we anticipate following for completing the major building repairs.  As a reminder, here is a summary of that pattern and notes on work underway:

  • Architect Selection.  OFPC is using an expedited process to select architect(s).
    • NOTE:  LSUHSC has recently prepared two information packages that are being used to advertise for and select the architect(s) for the major building repairs and remediation.  We have divided the major repair work into two projects; one for the Dental School campus work and one for the downtown campus.
  • Develop Bid Package(s) For Building Repair.  The architect(s) selected will begin developing the bid packages for the repairs needed in each building. 
  • Develop Environmental Remediation Plans and Specifications.  Concurrent with the above, the selected architect(s) will also develop plans and specifications for the work needed to perform any environmental remediation in the flood damaged buildings. 
  • Bid and Award Contract(s).  The bid packages for building repairs and the plans/specifications for the environmental remediation will be advertised, bids received, and the contracts awarded.
  • Construction, Repair & Remediation.  The contractor(s) selected will complete the repairs required.  The environmental remediation work will also be completed during this phase.
  • Final Inspections.  As a contractor completes the work for a building, the final inspections will be scheduled and completed. 

Here are highlights of work that has been accomplished since our update from Friday, October 28th:

  • The contract with the architectural/engineering firms to assess the damage to the campus buildings is coming to a close, as they work to complete the extensive written documentation and photographic evidence of the damage to campus buildings.  This information will be used to develop the specifications for the permanent repairs (see above), and will also help to document claims for reimbursement with ORM and FEMA.
    • NOTE:  This contract may be amended to allow for the design of plans to environmentally seal off the 1st floors of the MEB, CSRB, and Lions Eye Center buildings, in hopes of expediting re-occupancy of the upper floors.
  • The temporary IT data center at the Department of Public Safety continues to be stable and supports key software applications.  Selected Exchange (email) servers have been upgraded to a newer version of the software which supports spam blocking.  This should result in a significant reduction in unsolicited email reaching email users. 
  • A contract has been awarded to provide temporary power (as needed) and emergency air conditioning to the Dental School Clinic and Administration buildings.  The contractor completed all of the installation work and temporary air conditioning was provided to both buildings on 11/8/05.
  • The contractor who was hired to power-wash the building exteriors and to clean/disinfect the basements and selected 1st floor rooms has completed all of the work. 
  • The assessment of the damage to elevators across the campus continues.  As repair parts are secured, permanent repairs to individual elevators will begin.  The contractors have continued to assist in making temporary repairs to get selected elevators in buildings operating.
  • Implementation of the plans for providing temporary housing in Baton Rouge for students, faculty and staff continue to progress.  Room assignments on the FinnJet ship continue being made for faculty and staff.  Forty (40) of the new house trailers have electricity connected.  Final inspections are underway and trailers are being assigned as inspections are successfully completed.  Students with children who requested temporary housing are being accommodated first.
  • The contract to clean various portions of selected campus buildings (bathrooms, kitchens and public spaces) was completed on 11/8/05.  LSUHSC Facilities staff continues to complete the more routine cleaning.
  • Movable equipment and furnishings in basements and 1st floors has been assessed by LSUHSC staff and work under the contract for the removal and disposal of the items that are not salvageable has begun.  Work has been completed at the Resource Center and at the Lions Eye Center and rapid progress continues.
  • Work on the permanent repair/rebuilding of domestic water pumps in three of the downtown campus buildings continues.  The initial pumps removed from the MEB and the Resource Center (2 from each building) have been rebuilt and reinstalled.  One of the pumps has been removed from the Residence Hall and has been sent for rebuilding.
  • The bid solicitation for the emergency removal and disposal of carpet, wall board, and other porous & semi-porous materials from basements & 1st floors to prevent further spread of mold was released on 11/3/05.  Bids are due on 11/18/05.
  • A bid solicitation to make permanent repairs to the switchgear in the Residence Hall, CSRB, Lions Eye Center and Nursing/Allied Health Buildings was released on 10/27 and advertised.  The pre-bid walk through was completed on 11/7/05.  An addendum was issued on 11/9/05 and bids are due on 11/11/05.
  • The fire pump controller panel at the Residence Hall was replaced and the system is being tested.
  • Permanent repairs to the MEB switchgear have been completed and temporary power has been restored to the building, except for one quadrant.  LSUHSC Facilities staff are now testing various circuits throughout the building. 
  • On 11/10 the Office of Facility Planning & Control approved the LSUHSC program materials for use in advertising the architect selection process.  Ads are being placed and an expedited selection process has been approved.
  • A bid solicitation has been issued on 11/10/05 to make permanent repairs to various types of pumps to supply water and heat to the Residence Hall, MEB, CSRB, Lions Eye Center, Nursing/Allied Health, and Resource Center.

We trust that you continue to find this information helpful.  You may also want to read the Daily Updates posted on the web site to received more frequent information on progress.