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Extension office soaked

By Staff | Jun 3, 2014

THE PRIMARY MEETING room at the Webster County Extension office sustained water damage with downed ceiling tiles, saturated carpet and water seeping up the inside of walls.

FORT DODGE – Although there is never a convenient time to have a flooded office, said Linda Cline, Webster County’s 4-H and youth program coordinator, having one six weeks before the county fair starts is a hindrance.

Staff walked in on May 27 to find ceiling tiles down, and carpets and walls saturated with water.

Overnight, on May 26, a thunderstorm dropped about four-tenths of an inch of rain, but was pushed by high winds.

The Crossroads Mall, where the Extension office is housed, was in the process of a roof replacement. Protective coverings could not stand against the high winds, said Ally Zagers, Extension’s office manager.

Water poured into the office space, she said.

LARGE DEHUMIDIFIERS in the Extension office’s meeting room, on May 30, were still pulling water from the carpets and walls four days after the initial damage was discovered. Baseboard trim was removed, and holes were drilled to allow water to circulate behind the walls. In the background is Doug Janke, who works in the DNR office, searches though his publications to salvage what he can. Unlike the Extension office which lost the bulk of its publication library, Janke said, “I didn’t come out too badly.”

She said four computers, two printers and much of the office’s publication library were lost to water damage.

She said computers were being dried by a private company to determine if they can be returned to service. If not, records will be retrieved from them.

She said Carolyn Maschino’s entire Family Nutrition Program materials were lost and must be reordered.

A stove and refrigerator in the office’s kitchen may also have to be replaced.

As of Tuesday, there was still no final damage estimate available.

-Farm News photo by Larry Kershner JANEL SALVATORE, office assistant, commandeered youth program coordinator Linda Cline’s office, to begin preparing for Webster County 4-H’ers to file their paperwork for county fair. The Extension staff is contending with a disrupted office, while preparing for the fair.

On May 30, a series of six large dehumidifiers had been worked around the clock for four days and still water was visible flowing through the six tubes to a floor drain in the men’s restroom.

Audra Fischer moved a working computer to a relative dry spot and updated payroll and paid bills on May 30.

Janel Salvatore, office assistant, took over Linda Cline’s office, after Cline left on May 30 to travel with 4-H’ers to Washington, D.C.

Salvatore is getting things ready for when 4-H’ers start filing their paperwork for county fair exhibits.

But although staff is working to keep the nuts and bolts of the operation functioning, Zagers said, “Technically, we are closed.”

THE EXTENSION OFFICE’S lobby and cubicles is in disarray as efforts to dry out the office continued on May 30.The large humidifier on the left was one of six placed around the space to draw water out of the saturated carpet and walls.

The Extension office in Hamilton County has been fielding Webster County’s incoming phone calls.

Jerry Chizek, director of Extension’s Region 7, which includes Webster, Hamilton, Humboldt and Wright counties, said on June 3 that the mall is providing temporary space for Extension in the Younker’s wing of the mall’s complex.

“We have some staff who can work from home,” Chizek said, “but it will be nice to have everyone in one spot.”

He said the arrangement is temporary and expects to be back in its present location within a month.

“The staff has put up with a lot of stuff,” Chizek said, “moving out a lot of things and drying out materials.

“But our partners – the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Webster County Farm Bureau – have been great to work with.”

Both entities lease office space within the Extension complex.

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