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Northridge : CSUN Quake Recovery May Wind Up by 1998

It’s almost official.

Cal State Northridge, hit hard by the earthquake 21 months ago, could achieve a full recovery by early 1998, said Art Elbert, CSUN’s vice president for administration and finance.

Because architectural plans are drafted already, work on the campus’ administration building, fine arts building, South Library and other structures are expected “to be all done in two or 2 1/2 years,” Elbert said during an open forum called by President Blenda Wilson. The forums, which occur once a semester, are an opportunity for campus members to air concerns and have questions answered. About 20 CSUN students and faculty members attended Wednesday’s session.

Construction at the campus has been at a lull since summer, as university officials catch up on the paper work required for the first $177 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency recovery money, most of which was awarded on an emergency basis.

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Elbert said the school is in the process of filling out damage survey reports--the forms that lead to the campus getting recovery money--for the next $130 million to $150 million in FEMA funds.

“We are hopeful that we will receive another substantial allotment in the near future,” Elbert said, adding that he had “no idea” when the money might arrive.

Because CSUN had about $350 million in damage, completing construction by 1998 is hinged on getting the remainder of federal money soon, Elbert said.

“We hope that FEMA will work with us to expedite the application process and the award. . . . Right now, we feel that the campus community is very demoralized over the lull in getting critical facilities back into service,” Elbert said.

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Wilson, who criticized FEMA in July for delaying recovery, said holding classes in trailers was upsetting on many levels.

But the earthquake should be viewed as an opportunity, Wilson said.

“It’s an opportunity for us to replace 35-year-old buildings. We’ll have the level of technology and seismic quality as if the buildings had been built today.”


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