Yuma Public Library finally partially reopened

The Yuma Public Library finally reopened, partially at least, this past Monday afternoon.
“It feels really good to be back in here,” librarian Jeanne Triplett said. Patrons already were waiting when the doors were opened at 1 p.m., and the library had a steady stream of patrons throughout the afternoon.
It had been more than six weeks since the library had been open to the public.
It was on Christmas Eve morning, a Saturday, that Jody Brandner, the maintenance honcho for the Northeastern Junior College Yuma Campus, where the library is located, and his son James were on their way to check the building before being gone for the holiday weekend.
He said he got an alert about the fire alarm going off. However, as he pulled into the north parking they could tell it was not a fire, as water was gushing out of one of the rear maintenance closets into the parking lot.
It just so happened Nebraska Fire & Safety had one of its employees in town, visiting for the holidays. He rushed over and helped Brandner turn off the alarms and drain the fire suppression system.
Brandner said he saw water in the hallway as soon as he walked in, so he called Triplett, and she and her husband Mark responded to the scene. He also called Josh Huwa of Huwa Carpet Cleaning, who was just pulling back into town from another job. Huwa rushed right over and started sucking up the water with his equipment.
“Everything broke the right way,” Brandner said. “Everything considered, we got lucky.”
The Tripletts and Brandners got everything moved out of harms way, while Huwa pulled out as much water as possible.
“Everything was pretty much cleaned up in six hours,” Brandner said.
Triplett said Monday that nothing in regards to books, magazines, other materials, computers and wiring had been damaged.
“Nothing sat in the water very long,” she said.
However, there was water damage to the walls, baseboard and floors in some parts of the library.
That required an extensive cleaning up procedure, and removal of some drywall and baseboards, particularly closest to where the leak originated.
Mold testing then had to be done, and the tests came back positive, requiring more abatement work.
It was thought at first that the library could be reopened with one to two weeks. However, it ended up being six weeks, and there is still more work to be done. Brandner said the extended closure was due in part to the fact the companies involved were swamped with similar situations all over the state, and neighboring states.
During the six-week shutdown, the library staff, including Ashley Lynch and Jessica Traphagan, did all they could to continue providing services. They borrowed books, set up a computer and printer station for public use in another office in the NJC building, and collected books in the return drop box and stored them in a safe location, among other things.
The far north side of the library is off-limits for now, including stage in the children’s area, though the rest of it is open. The non-fiction section remains off-limits, but staff can retrieve such material for patrons.
What finally allowed the library to reopen was testing confirmed that the carpet and air samples had come back negative for mold. That led to the staff being granted access last Thursday.
They were ready to reopen Monday afternoon, though as mentioned above some areas remained off limits. Patrons can come in to check out books, DVDs, and other items, use the computers, printers and wi-fi, use the children’s area except for the stage, and sit in the reading area. (One patron was doing a puzzle Monday afternoon.)
It was not determined yet earlier this week when the remaining repair work on the north side will be done. The library might have to be closed again when that work is being done, but Triplett said she hoped maybe not.
Youth programs at the library probably will resume next week.
“We’ll just have to be patient,” Triplett said.
Brandner noted that many people in the community rushed to help, such as donating big fans to help with the drying process.
“It’s just what this community does,” he said.