Repairing Dozieir just got more expensive

ERATH -- To repair new flood damages at the old Dozier Elementary will now cost an extra $148,000 thanks to the latest storm surge.

Hurricane Ike last month flooded the town of Erath, including the old Dozier Elementary. Just under a foot of salt water flooded the school, creating more damage to an already flooded school.

Three years ago the school was flooded due to Hurricane Rita and has yet to be repaired. The School Board was in the process of starting to repair the school when Ike visited it.

The total cost to repair the old Dozier is $1.3 million.

Architect Gene Sellers Jr. gave a report to the School Board recently on how much it will cost to repair the new damages, which is covered by flood insurance, and that the new work may delay the school from being ready by August.

Some of the new work consists of putting new sheet rock, flushing out the sewer lines, changing the electrical outlets. To raise the electrical outlets a few feet higher would have cost an additional $80,000 (not paid by the flood insurance), Sellers said.

The contractor is asking the School Board for an additional 30 days to do the extra work. Those extra days may prevent old Dozier from being ready to reopen by August.

In the original contract, the contractor signed a contract that said if the repairs are not completed by Aug.1, the contractor will have to pay a fine of $1,000 each day the school is not ready. Because of the new damage, the school will not be 100 percent ready, the contractor told Sellers.

Sellers told the School Board members that the building will be able to be occupied by Aug. 1 but there will still be some work that needs to be finished after it is occupied. He said the contractor would complete the job on weekends when no one is in the school.

School Board member Anthony Fontana wanted to know why the School Board was repairing the old Dozier in hurricane season, knowing another storm could do the same kind of damage next week or next month.

FEMA approved a cement wall to be built around the old Dozier for flood protection, but that project may take another two years before completion

“The hurricane expert in the paper expects three more storms this month,” Fontana said. “One to be a major hurricane to threaten the United States. We don’t have a wall. Hurricane season is over in November. Why not put the hurricane damage stuff off and let him do the other work until after hurricane season is over?”

Sellers said the contractor will not begin work until November and Fontana wanted the contractor to start after hurricane season. Sellers said by pushing it back, it will delay the school from being ready by Aug. 1.

“I do not understand how we are renovating a school when we have not built a wall to protect the renovations first,” Fontana said.

The School Board voted to let the contractor begin work on Dozier. Fontana and School Board member Angela Faulk voted no.

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