$68.2 million OK'd to repair Naval Academy after Isabel

November 04, 2003|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

An effort to shore up the Naval Academy after Tropical Storm Isabel took a big leap forward yesterday when Congress gave final approval to a bill providing $68.2 million for the recovery.

The money - tucked inside the $87.5 billion aid package to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan - will pay for the construction of a new air-conditioning plant and the cleanup of buildings swamped by the September storm. The appropriation helps ensure a quick recovery for the waterfront campus, where midshipmen have been taking courses in makeshift classrooms and traveling to off-campus labs to finish some research projects.

Congress awarded all but $12 million of the school's $80 million request, including long-sought-after money to air condition the 4,000-bed student dormitory, Bancroft Hall. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation.

"We're extremely pleased to hear the good news," the academy spokesman, Cmdr. Rod Gibbons, said after the evening vote.

The storm, which struck Annapolis on Sept. 18, buried parts of the 338-acre campus under 8 feet of water. Floodwaters cascaded into classroom buildings, crippled heat and cooling systems and destroyed sophisticated chemistry and engineering labs.

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