Officials say it will take months to evaluate all the damage from the weekend water line break at the statehouse — and perhaps years to fix things. Mark Willemssen, the facilities manager for the General Assembly, has been working on the statehouse restoration for the past 20 years, and he is heartsick because the areas damaged by the water were newly-renovated just a year ago. “Not the easiest thing to look at,” Willemssen says of the flood damage. “You just kind of have to go into the mode of getting cleaned up and figuring out what to do next, so you don’t have a lot of time to think about it.” Willemssen says the water did flow through a section of the chamber where the House of Representatives meets for debate, but the Legislature will be able to convene as scheduled on January 10th. “Got into the carpet a little bit and then the ceiling on the north gallery, but nothing to prevent the chamber from being used for session,” Willemssen says. Dean Ibsen, an official with the Department of Administrative Services on Monday afternoon gave reporters a tour of the damage. “If you look over here, you see the paint is blistering. If you look at the carpeting, you can see that the carpeting has shrunk in some areas,” Ibsen says. “On first blush, you can’t really see that there’s any damage but we know that the paint is going to continue to deteriorate. We’re going to have to pull up the carpeting, so it’s difficult at this time to right now assess exactly how much damage there is.””In some areas, the plaster could take months, maybe years to dry out, so we do have some time before we really know the full extent of the damage,” Ibsen says. Willemssen says the length of drying time depends on the thickness of the walls behind the plaster. “In some cases, before we got the exterior done, we had walls that were three or four feet thick and after we got the outside waterproofed, it took the plaster roughly three to four years to dry out because all that brick and masonry inside was soaked.”
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