When an EF2 tornado ripped through the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, university officials felt fortunate that no one was seriously injured.
In the days that followed they were faced with the realization that they would need to repair millions of dollars worth of damage in only 59 days.
“The first few days, I’m not going to lie, your head was kind of spinning like, this is a lot of damage. Once we settled down and looked at this it was a matter of this needs to be done, this needs to be done, this needs to be done and let’s get the list done,” said Paul Erickson, public information officer for UW Platteville.
With the first wave of students set to arrive on campus Aug. 15, much of the work has been completed. The residence halls, which were badly damaged by the tornado, are being readied for the students' return. Furniture is being moved back into the residence halls and finishing touches are being done on the interior.
“We knew we had three residence halls that were significantly impacted. We knew our Engineering Hall had walls that were blown inside and had curves that even when they stripped them down to the studs, the metal studs were curved because of the strength of the wind,” Erickson said.
Windows broken out by the tornado are still covered with plywood on Engineering Hall. The window replacement work should be completed in time for the start of classes on Sept. 2.
“We knew this was going to be a long haul to try and get this fixed, and we knew it was going to take a lot of work and that’s what the summer’s been like at UW Platteville,” Erickson said.
While the residence halls and engineering building should be completed in time for the start of the fall semester, the football stadium will not. Work on replacing the artificial turf on the field will begin in a few days. The field was covered with shards of glass from broken windows in nearby buildings. Removing that glass from the turf was not possible.
Work is scheduled to be completed on the football stadium by Sept. 10, three days before the football team's home opener.