Fitting topic for reopening of flooded CLC auditorium: climate change
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Organizers say the first event to be held in the A Wing Auditorium at the College of Lake County since it was closed four months ago due to flooding is fitting, considering the circumstances.
The space will be reopened Tuesday night for national expert and former presidential adviser Donald Wuebbles and others who will give perspectives on how extreme events are related to climate change.
"We still have some work to do (but) we're going to squeeze it in because it makes so much sense," said David Husemoller, CLC sustainability manager. "It is kind of ironic and salient."
Representatives from the Citizens Climate Lobby will explain their work with Congress to develop a climate policy; local Sierra Club members will present the Lake County Climate Action Pledge, which is being circulated among county leaders to sign; and county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor and board member Vance Wyatt will discuss the impacts of the pledge.
The free program will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the main campus in Grayslake.
The second floor will be off limits, but the seats and carpeting on the main floor are new and a temporary audio/visual system will be in place for speakers to make their points.
"We're opening it for the first time, but it's not fully open," Husemoller said. "There will be some rough edges."
The venue has come a long way since heavy rain overnight July 12 inundated already saturated ground, streamed through the doors and deposited about 2 feet of water that reached the stage in the auditorium. It was the first time the roughly 30-year-old auditorium had flooded.
"We kind of had our own swimming pool," said Jim Marison, assistant director of facilities administration. "The drainage system all around Lake County basically was overwhelmed at the time."
The water was out by that afternoon, but the stage and curtains, audio/visual equipment, floor lighting, carpeting and theater seating were damaged.
First-floor repairs and replacement, as well as extra pumping capacity, have cost about $192,000. The second floor needed to be updated to match the first, costing an additional $35,000, but that does not include new audio/visual technology to be relocated to the second floor, Husemoller said.
Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois, was assistant director with the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama. He has co-authored or wrote a number of international and national scientific studies and hundreds of articles related to climate, air quality and the ozone layer.
Husemoller said he has communicated with Wuebbles for years and finally was able to land him for the CLC event.
"On a whim, I thought I would contact him to see if he had time for us," Husemoller said.
In Lake County, an estimated 3,500 homes were affected by the July flooding. McHenry, Kane and Cook counties also were affected, but damages fell short of the $18.2 million statewide threshold needed for federal assistance to reimburse local governments for losses or expenses, such as overtime.