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Flooded Colorado university dries out, prepares for students

August 21, 1997

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ Heavy equipment growls around the construction trailers parked outside Colorado State University’s student center and library. A white truck marked ``Water Damage Response Unit″ stands ready as dozens of workers landscape flood-ravaged lawns.

Three weeks after a 10-foot wall of floodwater crashed through part of this northern Colorado town, killing five people, school officials said they are ready for classes to begin Monday.

The July 28 floods destroyed a trailer park and caused an estimated $100 million in damage to the university. The bookstore was washed away along with 500,000 library books, but a temporary bookstore should be ready later this week.

Freshmen who were to begin arriving today for orientation will find most of the 33 buildings affected by water already reopened. But the signs on some doors suggest that this isn’t the same campus they may have visited in the spring: ``Closed Until Further Notice,″ ``Moved to Temporary Location.″

``Students will find things in a different location. But they’ll find things they need,″ said Keith Miser, vice president for student affairs. ``They’ll find a campus that is ready.″

Classes were relocated from damaged buildings and officials were scrambling to provide services in limited space.

``Will things be back to normal on the 25th? No. Will things go like clockwork? Probably not,″ school spokesman Tom Milligan said. ``Our goal from the beginning is to minimize the impact on students. We’ve done a pretty good job.″

Josh Hoppe, editor in chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, was here when the flood destroyed the college newspaper’s offices. On Wednesday, he looked around the converted off-campus classrooms the paper now calls home and recalled the devastation.

``It was just unbelievable to see everything you were used to, everything you worked on, in the middle of a lake that was a parking lot,″ he said.

Water was chest high in the Lory Student Center basement, home to the bookstore, newspaper and other offices, game rooms and the school radio and television stations. A bowling alley was destroyed.

Dozens of workers are restoring areas where floodwater, debris or heavy equipment had torn up lawns and gardens. For the most part, students jogging, walking or biking around campus seemed unfazed.

``It’s a lot of work. Everything was destroyed,″ said Tim Withee, a senior exercise and sports major who was laying sod. ``Now everything has been taken care of. I’m really surprised.″

A pep band practiced nearby and students threw frisbees to their dogs on the green oval that had been covered by water weeks earlier.

``There was a rowboat on the oval three weeks ago, no kidding,″ Milligan said.

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