Flood cleanup underway after pipes burst in Alabama Statehouse

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 8:55 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2022 at 10:23 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Sub-freezing temperatures have wreaked havoc on pipes at houses across Alabama, and the Statehouse was no exception over the weekend.

According to Pat Harris, the secretary of the Alabama Senate, flooding happened in parts of the first and second floors, as well as the basement of the massive building, located on South Union Street downtown.

[READ MORE: Deep freeze causing water issues in multiple areas in west, central Alabama]

Harris said crews worked overnight until around 7 a.m. on Christmas, then returned Sunday afternoon to continue efforts to dry out the building.

Initially reported as burst water pipes, Harris clarified that the issue was actually pipes from the building’s heating unit coil that ruptured.

“That building, it’s got fan coils in it, Harris said, “which means that when we have to run hot water through it, its water-heated, water-cooled. And those big towers on top of the building are water-cooled heaters or water-cooled air and heat.”

Harris said water is pumped through the coils, “and those old pipes just, they freeze up... If you don’t get the temperature of that water to a certain point, it’ll bust.”

The flooding, one of a number of maintenance issues affected the building, comes amid discussions by the Legislature to find a new home. Upgrading the building would cost millions, and inspectors say a new building may be the cheaper solution.

Harris said the building’s heaters and air condition provide all the heat and air conditioning to the actual Capitol across the street, but noted there was no damage found in any other building besides the statehouse.

The 60-year-old building was originally designed as an office for highway engineers in the early 1960s but has been home to state lawmakers since 1985. Renovations have taken place, including the addition of an eighth floor. According to the inspection report, continuing renovations will cost $50 million over the next 10 years.

The cost of repairs for the weekend flooding incident was not immediately clear.

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