Storm clean up will cost campus thousands

Robyn McNeil, Editor-in-Chief

In mid-February, limb-breaking ice proved problematic across the state, especially in places, such as Francis Marion University (FMU), that are populated by trees.  Even though the storm has passed, the cost of the clean up remains a priority for the university.

According to Ralph Davis, director of facilities management, the cost of the clean up includes tree care service, employee overtime wages and minor building repairs.

Davis said the university is in the process of gathering the financial information and does not have an exact figure but knows that the cost will be several thousand dollars.

“There were limbs down all over campus, from [Stokes Administration Building] to the [Smith University Center (UC),] the village to the dorms,” Davis said.  “We’re lucky in that we’re a state institution, so we set up contracts to help us when we have an emergency like we had.  Our contractor was Carolina Tree Care out of Columbia, and they did an awesome job.”

Carolina Tree Care worked for six days, Thursday, Feb.13 to Wednesday, Feb. 19, to clear fallen limbs and trees as well as remove those that were threatening.

Davis said on behalf of the university, he was appreciative of the measures the company took to improve campus conditions.

“The folks that work for them have families; some of them were out of power, yet they still brought out crews,” he said.

Davis also commended the efforts of FMU Grounds Maintenance, who worked an estimated 95 hours, and said the university is “blessed to have the grounds crew that we have, and they are very dedicated.”

Power was lost Wednesday night, Feb. 12, and briefly restored until the campus lost power again early Thursday morning, Feb. 13.  The university, excluding the Erving Dining Hall, was powerless until 4 p.m. Thursday evening when it was restored by Duke Energy, FMU’s power supplier.

Davis said the cause of the power outage was a tree limb that fell along Highway 301, across a power line vital to the campus.

Two cars that were in the path of falling limbs were damaged significantly; one belonged to a student and the other, to a staff member. The university is currently assisting the vehicles owners.

The UC was the only building that had any significant damage. Ceiling tiles were damaged by leakage caused by melting ice, and water then leaked on the floor and carpets of the center.

Davis explained that ware over time, not the ice storm itself, created the openings on the center’s roof, and the necessary repairs have since been made.

“It identified leaks we did not know we had until the storm,” he said.  “We had ice that would not allow normal drainage that we would see on the roof, and when the ice began to melt, we found some holes we had to repair.”

Davis said FMU was “lucky” there was only minimal damage to buildings but because the university’s insurance is based on building damage, it was unable to get any coverage for the clean up costs.