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UNR Officials Work To Move Forward After Dorm Explosion

Officials with the University of Nevada, Reno say a dormitory that was severely damaged during an explosion last week is structurally sound but currently uninhabitable. That's putting a strain on the school as it prepares for the upcoming academic year.

KUNR's Paul Boger spoke with University Provost Kevin Carman about the explosion, and how the school plans to move forward in the coming months.

"Our immediate concern was identifying and making sure that all of the students and employees who were in the dormitory were accounted for and safe. So, once we had that assurance, then we began to turn our attention to the recovery phase," Carman says.

"We recognized that we have 1,300 beds that are not going to be available to us, and we're going to have to find alternative housing for those students. We have the main dining facility for the campus that has been destroyed. How are we going to feed those students? Not only students in these halls, but in the other resident halls? That's going on."

"Also, getting advice from structural engineers about the condition of the buildings. Can they be rehabilitated or can they not? We've got very strong evidence that they can be. So, now we move into the phase of beginning to plan for what is that renovation going to look like and how are we going to proceed? We're in very active discussions now with insurance and moving into getting quotes for architectural planning and construction. That's the thing that we're working on now, which will take a few weeks for that to get resolved," Carman says.

In the interim, Carman says the university has already entered into negotiations with private hotels around the area to find suitable housing while construction is underway. However, that housing and the costs associated with repairing the damage to the residence halls have yet to be determined. Carman says the price tag will likely be hefty, but there is currently no plan to seek additional funds from the state.

"We're in constant contact with the Board of Regents, with the chancellor. We visited with the governor yesterday," says the provost. "At this point, we are assessing what our needs will be. We're moving forward, as you can see, with all the operations. Nothing isn't getting done because of the lack of resources and our insurance is robust enough to allow us to do that. Certainly, if there's a need for emergency funding from the state, the governor has suggested that we should come to him if there is a need for that. We have not, at this point, decided that we need to make him an emergency declaration. We'll be assessing all of this over the next couple of weeks."

As a note of disclosure, the license to this radio station is owned by the Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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