August 21, 2014

Elyria
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Storm damage at Elyria library in tens of thousands of dollars

ELYRIA — The Elyria Public Library’s oldest branch has been dealing with new problems the past three months, all from superstorm Sandy.

While the devastation others dealt with from the storm was widely known, few likely have heard about the damage at the Central Library branch on Washington Avenue.

There, damage was in the thousands of dollars as the basement level of the building was swamped by 4 inches of water.

“It was funny, when I got there at 8:30 a.m. there was a puddle by the back door, but by 10 a.m. the water was deep and throughout the basement,” Director Lyn Crouse said.

The library was insured, but officials have since learned there was little coverage for groundwater inundation, so the library’s share after insurance is an estimated $70,000.

Crouse said when the power went out late in the evening Oct. 29, it lasted for 36 hours and knocked out the sump pumps, which led to the basement flooding.

“We had Serv Pro come in immediately to dry the place and get out the water to the tune of $39,000,” Crouse said. “The worst damage we had — we lost all of our flooring, and part of that was old asbestos tile that was original to the building. So there was asbestos abatement.”

The most devastating damage happened to the elevator, which was on the lower level when the water came in. Its electrical system was destroyed, rendering it inoperable.

“That was the biggest setback because we had seven employees on that floor who were displaced,” Crouse said. “We had to transfer some employees to the West River Road branch and put others on roller skates, so to speak. They are just floating around the system.”

Crouse said the elevator is scheduled to be repaired in two weeks.

The storm also ruined the newly remodeled and carpeted Scheide Room, which coincidently was to be dedicated within days. Even with restoration work, the elevator is needed to make the room Americans with Disabilities Act accessible as a public meeting room.

Staff members also continue to feel the loss of the basement space. The Central Library staff has no employee break room, forcing some employees to eat lunches and take breaks in their cars. There is no refrigerator to store lunches, no furniture on which to sit and no flooring.

The library has concluded it will need additional funds for a complete restoration. The Elyria Public Library Foundation has been asked to conduct a public appeal. The foundation is the fundraising arm of the library.

Crouse said approximately $15,000 already has been raised through letters to past donors. The hope is the public, which has always supported the work of the library, will continue to do so.

“We were still lucky because we could have lost so much more. The basement is where most of the material for our annual Friends of Elyria Library annual book sale is stored,” she said. “We cleared most of it out because the sale just wrapped up. The one thing we did lose that broke our hearts was $2,000 in children’s puppets. We had to get rid of 80 puppets.”

To help

All donations should be sent to the Elyria Public Library Foundation, 320 Washington Ave., Elyria, OH 44035, Attention: Carol Campana, Treasurer. The library foundation is a nonprofit, and gifts are tax-deductible.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.