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Superdome to be cleaned, decontaminated before future decided

September 13, 2005
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Experts will have to clean and decontaminate the Louisiana Superdome before the stadium's future can be determined. Superdome officials took their first look at the Superdome, which was wrecked while housing thousands of people seeking refuge from Hurricane Katrina, on Friday. Those officials said Tuesday that mounds of trash have been removed from the Superdome's concourses and the interior is still dark, waterlogged and vile smelling. The New Orleans Arena next door is in better shape, they said.

``The first job is to get both buildings cleaned and decontaminated,'' Glenn Menard, who manages both buildings, said. ``Once we have that done we'll have the experts go in and tell us what can be done and what can't be done.''

The Superdome was a shelter of last resort during Katrina and thousands of refugees were stranded there for several days. Toilets backed up and overflowed, the Dome Cafe and some offices were looted and trash was left behind as refugees abandoned property. The condition of other areas, such as the luxury suites on the third and fourth levels, was not known because they were not inspected Friday, Menard said.

The roof sustained large gashes during the hurricane and the rubber coating that covered the huge dome was blown off. Water leaked throughout the building, flooding corridors outside the first-floor locker rooms and suites, pouring down elevator shafts and sending water-logged acoustic tiles crashing onto soaked carpets.

Electricity went off during the hurricane and a generator powered only emergency lighting. There was no air conditioning and large areas of the building, including the bathrooms, were completely dark.

``There is substantial damage, but we have to wait to see what its long-term effect on the structure will be,'' Menard said. Once the debris is removed, the building will have to be decontaminated before experts can determine what can be salvaged.

``We have to make sure the building is safe before we can get anyone in there to access the damage,'' Menard said. ``We hope to have a team in there in October so we can get a plan and decide what needs to be done.''

Menard said it was too early to say how much the cleanup would cost -- or if the stadium could be salvaged. He said the stadium and arena are both insured.

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