Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Administration & Finance

From: Ronnie Smith, Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance
Subject:  Hurricane Katrina Recovery – Update #1
Posted: September 30, 2005

During this very difficult time, we realize that communications are both more challenging and more important than ever before. As individuals, we and our families are interested in returning to our homes and restoring a sense of stability to our lives. As faculty, staff and students we are interested in returning to our campus “home” and getting things back to normal.

We would like to provide a periodic update on the work being done to restore the LSUHSC-NO campus to full operations following Hurricane Katrina. Specific timelines are, as yet, difficult to set. However, a number of steps have been taken to stabilize key elements of the campus to limit further damage. Further, a more strategic plan for assessing and addressing the damage done by the storm and the subsequent loss of power for an extended period of time is developing.


Generally, the majority of our major buildings fared reasonably well, considering the magnitude of the storm. There is relatively little wind-related damage to be addressed; broken windows at 1542 Tulane Ave. and the Residence Hall, along with roof damage to the Dental School are characteristic of the most significant issues. Many of our buildings have had water in the 1st floors, and all of the basements were flooded. The 1st floor of 1542 Tulane was dry. The 1st floors of the Dental School buildings had 3-4 feet of water, while most of the remaining buildings had an average of 1-2 feet of water in them.

The challenge that the water intrusion in basements and 1st floors presents is that most of the key electrical, mechanical and communications equipment that serves each building was impacted by the waters. We expect to have significant damage to all of this equipment which will have to be repaired or replaced before upper floors can receive electricity and air conditioning or heat. Some good news is that most of the elevators have the majority of their equipment located at the top of the elevator shafts; an exception being the elevators in the Roman Street Parking Garage.

Beyond the flood waters, the primary cause of damage will be the effects of buildings having been without electricity and environmentally controlled air for a number of weeks. Refrigeration was lost as soon as the generators ran out of fuel. Heat and humidity will have affected more sensitive items in upper floors to some extent; the specifics are as yet unknown. Perishables stored in refrigerators, freezers, etc. will have spoiled and will add to the complexity and scope of the clean up.

Our access to the buildings has been sharply limited by the security measures put in place by the State and the City of New Orleans. However, as things are progressing we are beginning to get better access for some key contractors and facilities staff which is assisting in the initial assessment and repair work. It remains true that the unknowns still outweigh the knowns, but this improves every day.

The following is a summary of work completed and/or currently underway:

  • In a little less than two weeks after the storm, a dedicated group of Computer Services employees located in Shreveport and Baton Rouge ordered, received and installed a large number of servers, network equipment, and back up equipment. Through the generosity of the State’s Department of Public Safety, the core functions of the IT data center were re-established in the DPS machine room in record time. This allowed the regularly scheduled biweekly payroll for approximately 14,000 Civil Service employees from LSUHSC-NO, the HCSD and LSUHSC-Shreveport to be processed on time just two weeks after the storm. PeopleSoft Financials is also online and key personnel are working on getting critical data entry caught up so that our financial picture will become clear again.
    o NOTE: One of the factors that complicated the process of distributing payroll funds was the number of employees who had not yet elected to have their payroll checks directly deposited into their bank accounts. We strongly urge every employee to elect this option!

  •  Through a contract established by the State Office of Facility Planning, windows/glass that was broken during the storm is being identified and repaired. The work at the Medical School and Dental School has been completed. Temporary (lexan) windows have been fitted in the CSRB, Lions Eye Center, and the Nursing/Allied Health Building while the custom glass is manufactured and delivered. The Residence Hall is now being assessed.

  • Through another contract established by the State Office of Facility Planning, damage to building roofs is being assessed and repairs effected. The Dental School roofs were assessed on 9/12. Materials for emergency repairs are being delivered to the site today and repairs are expected to begin as early as 9/30. The assessment of the downtown campus was completed by 9/22 (except for the Medical School bldg.) and no major damage was identified.

  • A contract was awarded for pumping out flood waters from the basements of buildings on the Dental School and downtown campuses on 9/16/05. The pump out of the basement of the Stanislaus Bldg. appears to have also pumped out basements of nearby buildings that were connected by utility tunnels, etc. The primary pumping of all basements has been completed, but high water table levels continue to push water back into key basement areas, as the electrically powered sump pumps are not operating. New, gasoline powered sump pumps are on order and will be installed to control ground water infusion into basements.

  • 24 hour a day security has been contracted for to insure that the New Orleans campus buildings are secure and protected.

  • Through the cooperative endeavor between Entergy and LSUHSC, Entergy is at work assessing damage to switch gear, pumps, etc. in the central utility plants and effecting repairs to allow delivery of heated and chilled water to the downtown campus buildings.

  • Working cooperatively with electrical contractors, LSUHSC-NO staff has begun to provide electricity to some of the upper floors in key buildings. Where chilled water can also be made available by Entergy and key air handlers in buildings are found to be clean, air conditioning will be provided to help stabilize buildings. These are temporary solutions; the permanent repairs will occur later.

    • The Resource Center has lights in floors 2-8 and air conditioning is now available in the Library. Air temperatures there are reported to be at 73 degrees and holding as of this morning. Work is underway to extend air conditioning to other floors.

    • The MEB and Residence Hall have been assessed and work on the Residence Hall is beginning.

    • The Nursing/Allied Bldg., Lions Eye Center, and the CSR are being assessed now and prices for the temporary repairs are being secured.

  • A number of research samples (contained in at least 18 dewars and 2 freezers) have been removed from the campus and relocated to freezer farms at Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the LSU Vet School. Other samples are being preserved by adding liquid nitrogen to large containers that could not be moved. Additional liquid nitrogen was secured and added to large containers on 9/27/05.


  • A number of valuable research animals were removed from the facilities; primates were relocated to the Tulane Primate Center in Covington, and other animals were relocated to Animal Sciences on the LSU campus. The remains of other research animals are being removed from the buildings by a team from the USDA and the LSUHSC.

  • A contract with an architectural & and engineering firm has been issued for a thorough assessment of the 35 buildings on campus to identify damage done to electrical, mechanical, HVAC systems, etc.

    • The assessment of the Resource Building is almost completed. Other building assessments will follow.
    • Based on each assessment, specifications will be prepared and used to establish additional contract(s) to complete the needed repairs.
  • We have revised some key travel policies to assist in meeting some of the peculiar challenges that these circumstances pose for our faculty and staff. Those revisions can now be found on the LSUHSC website.

  • The unique challenges that we now face have led to seeking creative ways to work more “virtually”. A new policy on the use of Communications Technology has been developed for the Health Sciences Center – New Orleans and posted at http://www.auxent.lsuhsc.edu/pdf/communications%20technology%20policy.pdf .

  • Due to the conditions in the city and the limited access being granted, the students who were living in our two dormitories have been unable to return and secure their personal belongings. We have contracted with a moving company to pack up all personal belongings, excluding furniture, label them by Room #, remove them and make them available to students at a location in Baton Rouge to be determined, beginning on Monday, 10/3/05. Students will be notified of the availability of their belongings and the times and location where they can retrieve their belongings. Items not picked up by students will be stored in a secure location.

Next steps include, but are not limited to:

  • A contract to power wash, clean and disinfect the exteriors of all the buildings and a low pressure wash & disinfection of the basements and 1st floors of all buildings will be awarded shortly.

  • A contract to provide a general cleaning of floors 2 and above in all buildings will be in place in the near future.

  • We will soon have a firm specializing in environmental work under contract to conduct a thorough environmental assessment of every building. This assessment will deliver two reports;

    • One regarding the relative safety of temporarily entering buildings without personal protective gear, and a plan for the remediation of all environmental issues discovered.
    • The 2nd report will form the basis for another contract to actually remediate the environmental issues determined to be present in the buildings.
  • A contract has been established with a specialist in preservation of library collections (esp. rare and old books) to assess the collections at both the Dental School and Resource Center.

    • Another contract will be awarded shortly for the removal of the collection (if needed) and any drying and cleaning needed to preserve the library collections.
    • We also hope to include key records from the Registrar’s office in this contract if feasible.

The State of Louisiana has significantly eased many of the normal procurement and contracting regulations, which is allowing us to move more quickly during this emergency. It is anticipated that a wide variety of specific issues will be uncovered by the assessments underway currently, and more will be found as key LSUHSC Facilities staff is able to more freely access the many buildings on campus. As these issues come to light, plans will rapidly be developed to address the issues, appropriate contracts issued, etc.

We will continue to prepare periodic updates on progress and distribute them to the leadership of the Health Sciences Center. We would encourage you to share them with your faculty and staff as you deem appropriate.