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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sprinkler Pipe Bursts, Floods Office

Just as this year's General Assembly session was just getting into full swing, state Sen. Richard Colburn was forced by floodwaters to move to a temporary office in Annapolis.

Speaking Tuesday, Colburn, R-37-Mid-Shore, said a fire suppression system pipe collapsed Monday on the fourth floor of the historic James Senate Office Building. Colburn said the water pooled in the center of the fourth story before running down elevator shafts and coming through the ceiling of his third-floor office.

"Unfortunately, my office was probably hit hardest," he said.

Colburn said his chief of staff described the scene as starting out with water leaking down through the ceiling like rain. The senator said it kept getting worse, until eventually the ceiling collapsed and down came the deluge.

Colburn was thankful for the efforts of his staff members and those of other senators in trying to save what they could from his office. He said a line of people passed items out of his office to safety as the water started coming in.

"To me it's like a tragedy. But you have to put things in perspective. Nobody was hurt," Colburn said.

Colburn said two other offices near his were also damaged by the flooding, but not as badly. He said he has been given temporary space in the James building to use, but does not expect to get back into his own office for at least two weeks.

"We're doing the best we can. We're in a very small conference room on the first floor of the Senate building," Colburn said.

The senator said a company is already working around the clock to clean up the mess, using fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the offices. He said he will need a new ceiling, and the building's elevators will need repairs.

"But everyone should be taking the stairs anyway. It saves five minutes a day and its good exercise," Colburn said.

Colburn said it was lucky the flooding happened on a Monday. He said if it had been the Friday before, no one may have been around to notice for quite some time and he may have lost his computers, files and pictures.

The senator said he is most worried about his office's ability to keep up the high-level of constituent service he strives for. He said his regular phone lines have been rerouted to his temporary space and he was still able to get eight bills filed after the flooding.

"My main concern is to be able to provide good constituent service," Colburn said.

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