April 6, 2004 — Today, the University of Utah received a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant totaling nearly $3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for seismic upgrades to the Marriott Library, one of the most heavily used state buildings. The award is significant in that the Library, which opened in 1967, is especially susceptible to collapse should an earthquake-5.0 magnitude or greater-occur. (Engineers predict that a sway of as little as one inch could cause the building’s five floors to “pancake” in a matter of seconds.) The FEMA funding will go toward braces, concrete, steel, miscellaneous materials and services that are needed for upgrades.
“The Marriott Library remains a top capital priority for the University,” said University of Utah Interim President Lorris Betz. “Receiving the FEMA funding only reinforces the fact that our Library requires immediate attention in order to make it seismically safe.”
Library Director Sarah Michalak noted, “The University of Utah submitted to FEMA a detailed request which included a benefit-cost analysis carried out according to government requirements, an assessment of potential for loss of life, detailed technical information about the problem presented by accomplished structural engineers and a solution to the problem produced by experienced experts. I am very grateful for the receipt of the FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation funding.”
FEMA selected the Library project because of the high benefit-to-cost ratio, provided by the project. The Library project competed with 459 applications from organizations across the United States and was one of 58 organizations to be awarded funding.
Commented David I. Maurstad, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VIII director, “This project was selected because it reflects FEMA’s priority of spending mitigation dollars where the greatest benefit in reducing the potential of loss of life and property can be achieved,” Maurstad said. “The library may house up to 4,000 persons at a given time and includes over $300 million in collections. I applaud the University for developing a great project and clearly communicating the potential risks and benefits to the Pre-Disaster Mitigation review panel.”
FEMA established the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program as a way to reduce the risks of damage caused by disaster as well as to reduce the amount of money that would have to be paid out by FEMA if a natural disaster struck an unprotected building.