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Statehouse floods due to ruptured pipes

The subfreezing cold over the weekend took its toll as far south as Montgomery.

Along with homes and businesses around the state, pipes burst in the Alabama Statehouse, causing offices to be flooded.

Secretary of the Senate Pat Harris was not surprised by the event.

“I’ve said it many times, but this is an old building that comes with many problems that old buildings have, one of those problems is old pipes that can freeze in weather like we’ve had, and when they freeze they’ll often bust,” Harris said.

Pipes in the building’s heating unit coil burst due to record, subfreezing temperatures in Montgomery.

The second floor, where the pipe ruptured, received the most damage. Flooding from the second floor caused leaks and flooding on the first floor, and also in the basement.

The portion of the building that flooded contains the Secretary of State’s office and the Department of Finance.

The flooding comes as legislators are already considering the idea of finding a new home for the House. According to inspectors, the total renovation of the building would cost millions of dollars. They believe that erecting a new building will be cheaper than upgrading the current one.

Before the incident, Harris was on APT’s “Capitol Journal” and discussed why the Legislature needs a new home.

“We probably run 14,000 school kids through here,” Harris said. “In session, it averages 3,000 a month. They are walking up and down the stairwells, they are crowding in the hallways and galleries, but they can’t see what’s happening.

“When we’ve had hot button issues and people want to come to a committee meeting, then the fire marshal comes through and says these people can’t be in the hallways.”

Workers, trying to contain the water damage, stayed through the night and didn’t leave until 7 a.m. on Christmas Day.

An official estimate for the cost of the damage has not been released.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer at Yellowhammer News.

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