NMC to focus on long-term needs, says official

NORTHERN Marianas College interim President Frankie Eliptico said NMC must construct concrete, modern structures that can withstand typhoons.

As far as rebuilding the college is concerned, Eliptico said he wants to “focus on the long-term rather than going back to where we were before, with tin roofing that can be easily damaged.”

Frankie Eliptico

“Whenever there is a typhoon we are vulnerable,” he added.

In a recent NMC Board of Regents meeting, Eliptico said they are looking at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s  Section 428 Alternate Procedures Program that will allow the college to consolidate the funds it will get from FEMA to build new buildings.

“It requires substantial engineering and architecture work and other types of assessment. We should do it now to look out for the best long-term interests of the college,” he said.

In a report to the board, NMC facilities director Vince Merfalen said college facilities worth $10 million were damaged by the typhoon. These include 27 buildings and an off-campus site.

“The severely damaged  buildings were A, B, E and T. They collapsed. They had a steel-frame structure but those frames were connected to the building which meant that trauma occurred in those structures and those joints,” Merfalen said.

“Buildings N, O, P, which are concrete, sustained minimal or moderate damage,” he said, adding that “building K, which has the least damage, has two classrooms and will be functional in the next few days.”

Regarding the damaged buildings, he said “when the roof was ripped off by the strong wind, it allowed rain to come inside and the strong winds to enter the building and damage the content inside.  Furniture, technology and computers were all exposed to the strong winds and rain. In some cases, things were thrown around so much that they dropped on the floor in pieces. There was so much water that got through.”

Merfalen said they have identified the buildings that are off-limits and not safe at all.

“We don’t have access to things like sonic equipment that will allow us to test the status of concrete. But when we look at the structure, we have seen signs of stress to the concrete, making it a possibly unstable building. It also tells me that it is not repairable and that we have to take the building down and start all over again,” he said.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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