Many of the Iowa Legislature’s full-time staff are sifting through the wreckage caused by this weekend’s flood at the capitol. Mary Braun works year-round for democrats in the Iowa House, and her office is among those that were saturated when a water pipe broke in the statehouse attic Friday night, sending water down through three floors to the basement. “There are blowers everywhere. There are chairs everywhere,” Braun says. “It’s total disarray.” Dennis Prouty, director of the Legislative Services Agency, says some water is still underneath some carpeting.The water caused the paint to bubble on the walls, and some ceilings buckled. “There is a smell that comes with it,” Prouty says. He met this morning with the statehouse facilities manager and the architect in charge of statehouse restoration to assess the damage. Structural engineers as well as the folks who installed the carpeting are at the statehouse, too, evaluating the damage. Prouty and his staff had just moved in the new basement office suite this summer. “Probably a fourth of the space that we’ve been allocated is a complete disaster,” Prouty says. In Braun’s work area on the floor above Prouty’s, the flood caused the most damage on the floors. “They’ve got these air blowers blowing all the way through our offices, trying to dry the carpet,” she says. Brand new carpeting may be ruined. “There are areas of it that bowled up and pulled away from the walls,” Braun says. “It doesn’t look good.” Legislative offices in the northeast quadrant of the building are damaged — including the offices for the parliamentarian that runs the House, the office suite for the staff who work for House Democrats and the basement offices of the Legislative Services Agency. As you might guess, computers are on each desk in those offices, and they’re shut down today, according to Braun. “Our computer support people have told us to let the computer equipment dry another day before we use computers,” Braun says. “They said there may be some defective equipment…and they may have to restore, replace some defective equipment.” This is crunch time for many of the staff who’ve been displaced by the capitol flood, as the Legislature convenes in 14 days. Prouty’s staff writes the bills legislators debate. Other members of Prouty’s staff are financial experts who draft the state budget. Prouty says the show will go on. “You know, January 10th is coming and we will be having session in the regular time frame and we’ll have to do it,” he says.
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