CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Damages caused by recent flooding in the main Capitol building are now being addressed and have been approved to be fixed.
Wednesday the Capitol Building Commission met to discuss the mess the flooding has caused and proposals for fixes from the various offices affected were heard. However, the proposals approved sought only short-term fixes– not long term to deal with actual flooding.
The building’s storm drains connect with sewer systems and those June downpours led to backs that caused damaged to first floor offices in the main part of the Capitol. Offices that have been affected include the State Treasurer’s office and the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
Bryan Archer, deputy treasurer of administration, told the commission that on June 24 the Treasurer’s office was filled with sewer infested waters. The office had carpeted floors with the original cork flooring underneath, and the floor absorbed the water.
“This is not the first time this has happened,” he told the commission. “The previous times that it has happened we have dried out the carpet and sanitized it, but this continues to happen.”
Archer proposed that the existing flooring be removed, including the original cork floor, and terrazzo tile be placed instead. Five areas in total were proposed to be replaced with tile, as well as electrical work to be done and painting areas damaged by the flooding.
The State Treasurer’s offices that saw water damage are located in Building 1 of the Capitol and include Room E-147-149.
The West Virginia Joint Committee on Government and Finance has also seen a long history of water damage due to storm water and sewage backups in the building. According to Londa Sabatino, fiscal officer for the committee, water has entered the office four times since June 19.
Sabatino said that this was not the first time that the flooring had been saturated by sewage-filled water.
“Back in 2013 we had to completely replace the carpet in these areas,” she said. “At that time we had actually sent the carpet off to a lab, and they informed us that it was full of E. coli.”
Sabatino proposed to replace the carpet and padding in the offices with the same Terrazzo tile that the State Treasurer’s office proposed to use so that if the flooding happens again it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
The proposal was approved by the Capitol Building Commission along with Sabatino’s proposal to fix damaged sheet rock and rerouting the electric in the areas damaged.
Re-flooring these offices is not fixing the issue of the flooding, though. According to Gregory Melton, director of the General Services Division, the only way to stop the flooding is with a long-term fix.
“Most likely the only real solution is to separate the combined sewer,” he said.
Randall Reed Smith, commissioner of the Division of Culture and History, said the Capitol Building Commission is doing all it can to make sure the building stays in great shape.
“What I love about the Capitol Building Commission is that it started in 1923 and it continues to preserve and protect our capitol,” he said. “Our capitol is one of our most significant historic treasures in the state, so everything that this commission does is to keep the building up, running, functioning and healthy.”
Other approved proposals included a tree removal on the grounds and a hardscape repair to the east wing executive stairs and east wing plaza.
Story by Jordyn Johnson