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Hospital adds safety wall to prevent another multi-million dollar flood disaster

Steve ThomasFEMA

Columbus Regional Hospital tested 15 newly installed flood gates Friday afternoon. They are located at each pedestrian and vehicle entrance to create a wall around the massive building.

Back in 2008, the hospital suffered $171 million in damage because of severe flooding on June 7.

"Thirteen feet deep of water (in the basement). From there, the water backed up into elevator shacks and stairwells, and it came up eight inches on the first floor before it came out of the doors of the building," said David Lenart, the hospital's facilities director.

The historic flood forced the evacuation of 157 patients, it took out the hospitals' phone lines and computer systems and destroyed expensive equipment.

"We had ceilings that had blocked out, we had equipment, that blocked hallways and doors because the water moved things hundreds of feet," said Lenart.

While the hospital was insured, there was a $25 million cap. FEMA quickly stepped in to help with the recovery effort and the federal agency will pay for the majority of the more than $4 million wall that was federally mandated.

"We have the helipad inside the wall. We have parking lots so we can actually organize an evacuation if we have that problem again," said Steve Thomas, another hospital official.

Crews will need to test more than a dozen pumps that are inside the gates by the end of the month so that they can be certified.

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