Library needs funds to repair Gustav damages

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — Ruby Dickerson is a real friend, and benefit, to the Judge George W. Armstrong Library.

She regularly attends the library’s bi-monthly used book sale to buy stacks of books.

“They always have a great selection,” Dickerson said.

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To help the library, Dickerson purchases the books, reads them, and then donates them back to the library so they can be resold.

But right now, the library is in need of more help than devotees of the used book sale can provide .

Library Director Susan Cassagne said damage to the library sustained during Hurricane Gustav has still not been repaired.

And she doesn’t think the work will be completed anytime soon.

“Right now we’re basically in a holding pattern,” Cassagne said. “There’s nothing we can do.”

While the work needed at the library hasn’t stopped it from serving the community, it needs to be fixed soon, Cassagne said.

“I thought it would have been done by now,” she said of the repair work from September’s hurricane.

Cassagne said the most pressing work to be addressed has to do with library’s roof.

During the hurricane, two large copper vents were blown from the roof, leaving the attic exposed to torrential rains.

Rainwater flooded the attic and eventually flowed from the ceiling onto books in the library’s second floor.

The leaks caused damage to the children’s collection and to the genealogy department.

Cassagne said until very recently, tarps were still being used as patches for the roof.

She said since the city owns and insures the building, there isn’t anything library staff can do to expedite the repair process.

The facility has been visited by multiple insurance adjusters, but the city still needs to have a second contractor make a bid on the job before work can begin, Cassagne said.

“It’s frustrating,” she said.

And in addition to holdups from the contractors, the insurance company has suggested that only half of the damaged roof be replaced.

“Why replace half a roof?” she said.

While Cassagne said not being able to see any progress at the facility is frustrating, the lingering repair issues are hurting the library.

Anne White, the library’s assistant director, said the tarps on the roof are not adequate.

White said on Dec. 9, when a massive storm moved into Natchez, the tarps proved to be leaky.

White said in that storm, the roof leaked again and more water made its way to the children’s collection.

“Luckily we didn’t lose any books that time,” White said.

Since then, the tarps have been reinforced with sheet metal to prevent leaking.

“Now we hope it won’t leak every time it rains,” she said.

Cassagne said the newest leaks have also caused damaged to the carpet.

She said she’s concerned the damp carpet will start to rot the wooden bookshelves on top of it.

“We just want to see the repairs made,” she said. “I think the longer this goes on, the more expensive it’s going to get.”