December windstorm did $500,000 worth of campus damage

     Visitors to Colorado Springs on Dec. 16 would have noticed a city strewn with uprooted trees, broken glass and fallen signs in the wake of a windstorm with gusts up to 90 mph on Dec. 15.  

     While many places across town have mostly recovered from the damage and resumed operations as usual, some will need more time and money to bring them back to shape. According to Executive Director of Facilities Management and Operations Jeff Reed, the UCCS campus has some damage to address.  

     “We estimate that we had about half a million dollars’ worth of damage across campus,” he said, although he added that insurance will reimburse the university for repair costs.  

Tree damaged by the Dec. 15 windstorm outside the University Center. Photo by Meghan Germain. 

     Certain problems have been fixed more easily than others. Reed explained that while some broken windows will take longer to fix due to the specialized nature of the glass, they immediately repaired others with less expensive materials.  

     For some more intense damage, it takes even longer to gather materials in the first place. “It could be anywhere from three to six months on average, for say, a roof, for the material to get in,” Reed said, remembering how the materials for the library repairs last semester arrived eight months after being ordered.  

     The storm left a mark on the campus, but Reed believes it could have been worse had his team not kept a careful eye on the weather and prepared as best they could.  

     “We always look at the weather, whether it be windstorm, rainstorm, snowstorm and develop a plan before it actually happens,” he said. “We were fully aware that this storm was [going to] come. We anticipated anywhere from 80 – 100 mile an hour gusts, which we did experience.” 

     The day before the storm, Reed said the outdoor maintenance team reduced the potential hazards by removing objects that could become dangerous if the storm picked them up and boarding up areas that needed to stay secured.  

     “The team did an awesome job prepping for the storm … making sure we eliminated as many flying objects as we could prior to the event,” he said.  

      Reed’s team has spent over 300 hours combined in outdoor work and janitorial services, including cleaning up detritus and repairing buildings, he said. 

     Aside from roof work, Reed said the only area still unsafe to occupy is the Upper Lodge Patio.  

     Due to the unlikelihood of a worse windstorm hitting Colorado Springs, Reed believes there will not be major changes to any campus infrastructure for future weather events. “The current building code design is up to 120 mph,” he said. 

     The only other casualties were the 11 uprooted trees, which outdoor services sent to be chopped down and used as composting material throughout the city. “We always reuse [and] recycle when we can,” Reed said.