FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- Flood damage to North Dakota State University could total $20 million or more, officials said Thursday as workers began to freeze-dry and clean soggy books in the campus library and restore the school's telephone system.
Mayor Bruce Furness also said preliminary estimates indicate $5 million in damage to the Fargodome. He said between 2,000 and 3,000 homes in the city have water damage, averaging about $5,000, from heavy rain earlier this week. Total damage could be higher than $80 million.
''We're staggered by them,'' Fargo Public Works Manager Dennis Walaker said of the estimates.
State University Chancellor Larry Isaak and members of the state Board of Higher Education toured NDSU, and Isaak said he was surprised at the extent of the damage. Despite the problems, he said, ''the students across the state and the region need to understand that this place is up and functioning.''
Floodwaters knocked out the university's communication system, and officials said it could take at least a month to repair. A temporary phone system was being installed.
Thousands of acres of university-owned field plots in north Fargo, Casselton and Prosper also were damaged or destroyed, said Patricia Jensen, the NDSU director of agricultural affairs.
''The significance isn't just that you lose this year's material,'' Jensen said. It also means the loss of progress in research into such things as crop diseases, she said.
Specialists started work to help the NDSU library save historical documents and photos damaged when 4 feet of water flooded its basement.
Books will be freeze-dried, disinfected and cleaned, said Tom Haarala, the Minneapolis district manager for Munters Moisture Control Services, a Swedish-owned company. The company brought in a dehumidifying machine late Wednesday for temporary humidity control.
The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks offered help to NDSU.
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