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Published by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. CLICK FOR NEWSPAPER DELIVERY

Friday, August 10, 2001

UT-Houston medical school seeks aid for damages from Allison

Tropical storm devastated health center; repairs will cost more than $205 million

By Susan parrott
Associated Press

   ARLINGTON - Insurance will cover only $50 million of the $205 million in damage caused by Tropical Storm Allison to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, UT System Regents were told Thursday.
   Federal Emergency Management Agency funds are pending, but regents may be asked to provide interim funding to rebuild the teaching and medical center devastated by the June floods.
   Allison's floods caused $5 billion in damage in the Houston area and left 22 dead. About $2 billion of that damage was at the Texas Medical Center, a large complex of hospitals where 8.5 inches of rain fell in two hours early June 9.
   About 10 million gallons of water rushed into UT's medical school.
   Fixing the damage
   Damage to the school is estimated at $52 million for facilities, $53 million for equipment, $10 million for emergency response, $7.4 million in lost lab animals and $15 million for business interruption
   Another $68 million is needed to fix facilities to prevent future damage.
   "We will never place animals or critical equipment in the basement again," said medical school president Dr. James Willerson.
   In addition, $105 million in sponsored research projects have been derailed or destroyed.
   About 3,200 faculty members, students and staff members have been displaced for more than a month, and many still have no work or classroom space.
   Years for relief
   Willerson said it could take years to fully obtain federal relief funding.
   "It's a real problem just paying our bills," he said. "We are definitely going to need your help."
   He said regents likely will be asked for emergency funding in November.
   Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has said the National Institutes of Health will supplement funding from his agency this year to help replace damaged or lost research equipment at the medical complex.
   Willerson said his school is seeking $3 million in NIH funding.
   At the university's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, damage was less than $2 million from minor flooding, but costs to prepare the facility in case of future flooding will exceed $136 million, said center president Dr. John Mendelsohn.
   "This has been a severe blow to Houston and to our institutions," said Regent Patrick Oxford of Houston.

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