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Officials await word on City Hall damage amount

October 19, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Officials might have to wait until next week to learn the estimate for Charles Town City Hall, which was damaged after water ran through the building for at least 12 hours last weekend, a city official said Wednesday.

An insurance adjuster and another official examined the building and could not arrive at a damage estimate, City Manager Jane Arnett said.

Part of the issue revolves around how much moisture remains in the building, and it was agreed that the more water that is removed from City Hall, the less replacement of materials will be required, Arnett said.

Larry Fritts of Duraclean has been hired by the city to remove the water from the building, and on Wednesday afternoon, four commercial dehumidifiers were running in the building at the intersection of George and Washington streets to remove water, Arnett said.

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Arnett said the insurance adjuster will return to the building next week to make another assessment of the damage.

Carpeting, computers and recording equipment were destroyed and items like framed photographs of Charles Town's history were damaged Sunday when water ran for at least 12 hours in City Hall.

The building flooded when a 2-inch water line feeding an air conditioning unit in the top of the building ruptured, city officials said.

The water ran down through interior walls, causing paint to blister and soaking drywall to the point where a fist could easily be pushed through it.

Water also ran into a safe and a vault, and although some city records got wet, they were not destroyed, Mayor Peggy Smith said.

In Smith's second-floor office above the council chambers, it appeared the floor might have bowed and officials were concerned about whether it created a safety hazard.

Arnett said it was determined that the building was safe enough for workers to begin cleanup operations.

The hardwood floor in Smith's office had to be torn up because of water damage and the support structure below it is being left exposed so it can dry out.

It could be six months before the building is back in working order, Arnett said.

The city will be able to use the Charles Town Visitors Center, the Charles Town Library and Zion Episcopal Church to hold council meetings, Arnett said.

Arnett said locations of meetings will be posted on the city's Web site at www.charlestownwv.us.

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