There’s been another "flood" at the statehouse. The culprit? A broken fire sprinkler. Everyone in the capitol was evacuated from the building at 11 o’clock this morning. Water was cascading through the same area of the statehouse that was damaged by hundreds of gallons of water just over two years ago when a water sprinkler line in the northeast corner of the building burst.
Representative Chuck Gipp, a Republican from Decorah, says officials are still trying to determine whether the device is faulty or whether state workers aren’t doing appropriate maintenance. "Whoever’s problem it is, it has to be resolved. We cannot afford to continue to have this happen," Gipp says. "…It causes a lot of problems with the way the legislature operates…let alone the damage that it causes." The damaged area had just been renovated two years ago when the first flood happened. Now, newly-installed carpeting is soggy from this second flood.
Gipp estimates restoration plans for that section of the statehouse will be set back by at least another year by today’s incident. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines says there’s no damage estimate yet. "It’s way too early to give an estimate in terms of dollars, but it will be significant," McCarthy says.
The incident that happened two years ago occurred on Christmas Eve, and wasn’t discovered as quickly as today’s "flood" according to House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque. "It’s not like it was a little over two years ago where the water was running for hours on end without anybody knowing it," Murphy says. On Friday, December 24, 2004, a two-inch water pipe in a fourth floor capitol attic ruptured. An investigation found the pipe had not been insulated. Officials estimated over two-thousand gallons of water poured through legislative offices and part of chamber where the Iowa House debates. Newly-installed wool carpets were ruined. Thick plaster walls that were soaked in the first flood were not completely dry today when the second water break occurred.