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U Hawaii Manoa Hamilton Library Flood Damage Update

:: Librarians at U Hawaii Manoa Hamilton Library have been posting flood updates to various discussion groups. The following was posted on ELDNET-L, by Bob Schwarzwalder of the U Hawaii Manoa Library:

The situation here is very bad. This last Saturday night, at about 8:30 Hawaii Time, we experienced a flash flood. We had heavy rains and a landslide sent a number of trees down Manoa stream, forming a dam and diverting a massive wave of water through campus. 35 buildings were affected, the Library receiving the worst damage. We had 12 feet of water in some places in the library with 7 feet through-out the ground floor. Library materials were scattered across campus. Interior walls were torn down. In large areas of the ground floor, there is nothing left standing. Fortunately no one was killed and injuries are few and minor.

We lost everything on the ground floor including government documents, maps, serials, cataloguing, acquisitions, the UH Library School, and our server room. On the first floor our sci/tech dept suffered minor damage, but our systems dept was flooded. As head of IT for the Library, and provider of catalog and proxy services for academic and several special libraries across the state, the losses were terrible. Our entire technical services division was on the ground floor -- nothing is left. But, we did have backups.

We are attempting to save unique items from our maps and government documents collections. Campus email has been restored and we in IT are working around the clock to restore services from exile in another facility across campus -- one that has power and networking. We may have our web site up tomorrow -- I will send a URL where you can see some photos and get more news. We have no idea of when power will be restored to the building and are still pumping water out of the Library.

We have been overwhelmed by outpourings of concern and offers of assistance. Our campus administration, state government, and colleagues in Hawaii, on the mainland, and in the Pacific region have been wonderful. We are on track and making progress, but the work is back-breaking, nasty and slow. Given our tropical climate, things are getting rather rank and we are concerned about the health and safety of our people.

I need to sign off now and send updates to some of our other UH campuses. Thank you all for your concern, please keep us in your thoughts.

Bob Schwarzwalder
Asst University Librarian for Library IT
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Sara Rutter, also of the Hamilton Library at UHM, posted the following on PAMNET:
hello all, just wanted to let you know that everyone at Hamilton Library is okay, just tired and muddy.

The Manoa stream jumped its banks and flowed through several buildings on the Manoa campus, including Hamilton Library on Saturday evening. The flash flood submerged the basement of Hamilton, which holds Government documents, the Maps collection, Systems, Cataloging and Acquisitions and attached to the library, the LIS program. The basement is covered in mud, and the collections held there are a mess. The LIS offices and classrooms are trashed. The maps of Hawaii and the Pacific, rare and unique maps are being rinsed and put into freezer shipping containers. Aerial photographs of Micronesia are being washed by hand and then put into cool conditions to halt the growth of fungus. We have 90,000 photos to save. Library staff are working in shifts, without electrical power, telephones, to salvage the collections and cpu's. The systems folks are working to salvage data from the cpu's. The community, both UH and town are volunteering, which is great.

The flood was apparently caused by a landslide near Manoa Falls (Manoa Falls is in the interior of the amphitheater shaped Manoa valley), that happened in the heavy rainfall, which then caused trees to topple into the stream. The Manoa stream winds its way through the valley, by the campus. The stream carried the trees until they created a dam, near the opening of the valley, where the campus is. The stream jumped its banks. I haven't heard that anyone was hurt in the sudden flood; near misses but everyone is fine, except some have ruined houses. There are still three cars suspended from trees overhanging the stream.

This event really brings home the importance and relevance of those disaster plans that we all put together when we are dry, clean and comfortable, never believing that decisions will have to be made so fast.


Sara Rutter
Hamilton Library
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, HI

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