ECU cleanup shows spirit of recovery


With ECU Chief of Staff Philip Rogers, Senator Kay Hagan toured East Carolina University Tuesday, Aug. 30 to inspect the damage from Hurricane Irene. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Mary Schulken
ECU Director of Public Affairs

The hard work that readied East Carolina University to resume classes Aug. 31 shows the spirit that will drive recovery from Hurricane Irene, Sen. Kay Hagan said during a tour of campus damage.

“There are a lot of great people hard at work getting it back together right here,” Hagan said Tuesday at ECU while on a tour of storm damage in eastern North Carolina.

“You can see the North Carolina spirit at work here as always,” she said.

Hurricane Irene moved across North Carolina’s coast and coastal plain Aug. 26 and 27, bringing a prolonged period of rain, tropical storm force winds and destructive hurricane force gusts.

ECU staff pulled together during and after the storm to get the university back in operation. Read the story, Goodbye, Irene: ‘Everyone pulled together’

At ECU the storm left downed trees, broken residence hall windows, battered roofs and damp quarters in many buildings. The damage has kept staff busy with mops, hammers, nails, chain saws, Bobcats and tractors.

On Tuesday Rick Niswander, vice chancellor for finance and administration, estimated the cost of repairs could reach as high as $1 million. He estimated at least 70 trees larger than 10 inches in diameter were blown over or were so severely damaged they will need to be removed.

Classes will resume Wednesday after two days of clean up. Yet, as Hagan pointed out while eyeballing campus damage, it will take weeks before work is complete.

The senator and her aides began their tour at Greene residence hall, where wind pried at the roof enough to break a storm drain pipe underneath and send water into the building. About two dozen students were moved to the lobby during the storm.

Five students from three rooms have been relocated to another residence hall for a few weeks while permanent repairs are made.

Hagan also toured damage in Spilman, an administration building built in the 1920s that houses the chancellor’s office. Irene snatched metal sheeting off the roof and rain soaked ceilings and walls inside, including in the chancellor’s conference room.

“It will be many weeks,” Hagan said outside Spilman, shaking her head at a pile of sodden insulation ready to be carted off. A short distance away, on Chancellor’s Way, a chain saw ripped at fallen limbs and a backhoe droned, lifting away broken limbs.

Sen. Kay Hagan views the damage inside the Spilman Building, where major damage to the roof and ceilings took place.

Niswander said many people worked very hard to ready campus to resume classes.

“We are focused primarily on making sure the campus and our buildings are clean and safe and getting back to classes,” he said.


View more images from the onset of the storm and its aftermath on campus.