H-ASIA: Disaster at University of Hawaii Manoa, Library Flooded

Frank Conlon conlon at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Mon Nov 15 04:30:04 UTC 2004

November 14, 2004

Heavy rains lead to flash flooding through campus of the University of
Hawai'i Manoa on October 30: Hamilton Library devastated.
From: Frank Conlon

My friend and colleague Frank Joseph Shulman just altered me to a fact
which had not appeared in my news media in Boulder or Seattle, namely that
on the evening of October 30, following twenty-four hours of heavy rain, a
flash flood decimated portions of the Manoa campus of the University of

The news bulletin on the Library Journal website gives an overview:

The University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa, October 30, sustained major flood
damage, destroying priceless collections and knocking out much of the
librarys computing capability. According to reports in The Kaleo, the UH
student newspaper, as many as 35 buildings on campus were damaged, with
the Hamilton Library hit hardest. The paper claims a "six to seven foot
wall of water" swept through the librarys ground floor. UH president David
McClain told reporters that over a ton of dry ice has already been brought
in to help preserve damaged documents, a process that involves freezing
them while wet. McClain said it would take time to assess the full extent
of the damages. Fortunately, the library was closed, and the few people
that were in the library were able to escape the flood unharmed. While a
more detailed assessment of the damage is still to come, an email message
from UH librarian Gwen Sinclair, UH-Manoas head of government documents &
maps, hinted at the magnitude of the destruction. The ground floor that
flooded, Sinclair reported, housed the librarys government documents and
map collections, as well as the technical services departments. "The force
of the flood water was so great that it knocked out walls, broke windows,
moved fully loaded map cases, and knocked over our stacks," she wrote.

The above story doesn't begin to tell the story.  For a most vivid and
sickening visual record of the flood, please consult the special coverage
on the flooding at the UH web site:
<http://www2.hawaii.edu/~smurata/flood/> provides a series of slide photos
of the damage--for my money--the worst are the pictures of the new mold
farms that have come up on the books and papers.

Six feet of feet of flood water filled the lower floor of Hamilton
Library.  The government documents section was destroyed; all library
servers and most computers were flooded out; the map room (including the
invaluable collection of Pacific area maps and related materials) and
the photo collections were inundated, and much of the cataloging
department was also flooded.  There were other important research and
teaching buildings also damaged severely, in particular the Bio-Medical
Sciences Building where major long-term research projects were washed
away.  The area has been declared a state disaster area by Hawai'i's
governor, Linda Lingle.

The Library web page offers many links at the following basic  URL:

The total damage in terms of physical destruction has not yet been fully
documented, but it will run into millions of dollars.  It is too early to
know how successful will be the efforts at conservation and restoration
using freezing techniques, but restoration will take years and may never
enable a full recovery.

Our hearts go out to our colleagues in the Hamilton Library and in the
University of Hawai'i generally.  May I urge H-ASIA members to consider
adjusting their end of year charitable donations to include directing some
of their generosity toward the Library Enrichment and Flood Relief Fund at
the University of Hawai'i Foundation?  The folks at Manoa are making
heroic efforts to save as much of the valuable collections as possible.
Some of you may recall that back in the summer of 1997, the library at
Colorado State University was devastated by a flash flood.  CSU's
experience will provide some precedents for recovery efforts, but Fort
Collins' climate is a dry one, Honolulu's is not.  Also, CSU was able to
link up with neighboring institutional libraries at Greeley and Boulder,
both a short drive away--Honolulu is not a short drive from anywhere, but
Honolulu.  So help really is needed.

A secure online donation site may be reached at:

And may I ask UH members of H-ASIA to keep us posted on progress?

Frank Conlon
Co-editor, H-ASIA
Professor Emeritus
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3560
         To post to  H-ASIA  simply send your message to:
                         <H-ASIA at h-net.msu.edu>
           For holidays or short absences send post to:
                 <listserv at h-net.msu.edu> with message:
                         SET H-ASIA NOMAIL
        Upon return, send post with message SET H-ASIA MAIL
        H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL:    http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list