Schenectady County

Irene: Hurried SCCC flood cleanup proves costly

Damage to Schenectady County Community College from Tropical Storm Irene could total nearly $1.2 mil

Damage to Schenectady County Community College from Tropical Storm Irene could total nearly $1.2 million.

President Quintin Bullock presented to the Board of Trustees Monday revised estimates of the cost of the cleanup and repair from the storm that began Aug. 28. The surging Mohawk River submerged the college’s parking lot off Washington Avenue, causing water to get into Elston Hall, flooding the copy and mail room. Water also flooded the basement of Begley Hall.

“This was when it was at its peak,” Bullock said, showing a photograph of the parking lot with water up to almost the top of a light pole. “It was like a river of no return.”

SCCC officials were forced to delay the start of classes by two days to Sept. 8.

Because it was an emergency, SCCC bypassed the normal procedures for putting work out to bid, according to Bullock. He cited a section of municipal law that allows for waiving of competitive bidding during an emergency.

Contractors worked nonstop around the clock to remove debris and get the college ready for opening.

“We understood the urgency of getting the college up and running within a reasonable amount of time,” he said.

Board Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said the college was fortunate to find the contractors to do the work, especially when there was so much damage in Schenectady and Schoharie counties.

“They were working around the clock and we had them here at midnight,” she said.

Cleaning services alone including removing mud from all parking lots cost about $200,000, according to the itemized list provided by Bullock. Pumping water out of the main parking lot cost $27,000.

Crews are repairing a water main in the parking lot. The college is likely to spend another $250,000 to fix large cracks and other repairs to the lot. A large sinkhole is currently cordoned off in the drop-off area in front of the academic buildings.

Meanwhile, $180,000 is the estimated cost to fix the copier and mail room and install new wiring, heating and cooling utilities, flooring and piping in the Begley basement.

About $100,000 was spent to clean up Begley and repair a sewer pump. Cleanup and decontamination of Elston Hall cost about $15,000.

Other expenses are $122,500 to repair two elevators.

Insurance could cover some of the damage. On the itemized list, Bullock shows two claims totaling $130,000 each to replace the college’s ground master mower and service cart and small equipment and hand tools. The college’s insurance carriers have already visited the site and are working with SCCC to file a claim.

To pay the costs, the college will draw the money from its regular operations fund, Bullock said. SCCC officials will meet with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency next week to discuss the process of filing a claim.

Depending on when it receives money from FEMA, the college may have to tap into its surplus to cover the costs.

Trustee Ray Gillen said the low elevation of the college makes it all the more important to continue growing into the downtown as it has done at the Center City site, where it is leasing space.

The college was able to use that site as temporary office space during the process of getting back up and running.

Categories: Schenectady County

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