Flood Damage at University of Iowa Triples to $743 Million

March 17, 2009

The damage estimate from last summer’s flooding at the University of Iowa has nearly tripled to $743 million.

University officials released the new estimate on Friday. It includes all building and content damage and the costs to relocate building complexes for theater and art.

“It’s a big number,” said university president Sally Mason. “But I think it’s a reasonable number.”

Just knocking down two major arts complexes and rebuilding on higher ground will cost at least $225 million, and will leave the campus without an auditorium for several years.

But Iowa officials say the relocation is necessary because the damaged buildings were in a flood plain, and therefore cannot be covered by insurance or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s important we recognize that the risk of not being adequately insured or not having FEMA support is something no one wants to go through,” said Doug True, Iowa’s vice president for finance.

The June 2008 flood damaged 20 university buildings, and the low-lying arts campus was hit hardest.

The Iowa Board of Regents must still approve the proposed relocation, and could still decide to rebuild the arts campus in its current location, next to the river.

The regents will be taken on a tour of the flood-damaged campus buildings next week, and will also tour the proposed new ground to where the buildings could be relocated.

If rebuilt, officials estimate the campus auditorium could be finished by fall 2013.

The flood-damage estimate also includes future efforts to prevent flooding, such as putting bulkheads in steam tunnels to prevent underground water from gushing into buildings.

The university’s share, after reimbursement through flood insurance and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is about $185 million.

In July, Iowa officials estimated rebuilding would cost about $232 million.

Officials will present the information about flood recovery to the Iowa Board of Regents next week. Flood damage was estimated at $232 million shortly after the last June’s flood and didn’t include many costs.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,

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