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Water damage

Scott Kittley, of Arrow Service Team, removes bags filled with debris from the Tom Baker Meeting Room as water damage cleanup continued Monday on the lower floor at the City/County Building in Bismarck. 

BISMARCK, N.D. --Frozen boiler pipes burst and flooded the basement of the City County Building, 221 N. Fifth St. in Bismarck, over the Thanksgiving holiday break, rendering Bismarck’s main government meeting room unusable.

About 2 inches of water flooded the elevator floor, the Tom Baker Meeting Room, video camera equipment, carpeting, election equipment, stored county papers and electrical outlets. A contractor has vacuumed the water out, but several repairs were still underway Monday afternoon. Operation of the building’s four-story elevator also was stopped until electricians are assured it will function safely.

The Tom Baker meeting room has been sealed off.

“It’s all torn up down there,” said Bob McConnell, human resources director for the City of Bismarck on Monday. “They’re pulling out carpets and are into the drywall.”

No offices are located in the basement, but it  holds storage space for city and county papers.

A Burleigh County Commission meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. was moved to the first-floor conference room Monday as work continued.

“The whole basement flooded,” said Keith Hunke, Bismarck’s assistant city administrator.

LaVonne Wohl, the city’s facilities manger, said she was notified about the incident 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Hunke said the burst boiler pipe made for a chilly morning Friday for 100 city and 25 Burleigh County employees using the building. The boiler did not need to be replaced, only its pipes, according to city officials.

“It was 58 degrees, and people had on their caps and gloves,” said Hunke, adding that the boiler system was functioning by early Friday afternoon and heat returned. The city-owned building still has more repairs to complete, he added.

Damage estimate was unavailable Monday, according to Wohl, who said the pipe damage occurred on the first floor where county offices are located and flowed down to the basement.

“The carpeting will have to be replaced. Equipment from Dakota Media Access got wet, and outlets on the floor got wet,” she said. “It flooded the elevator floor.”

According to Wohl, the boiler pipe has been replaced and the area the cold escaped into has been insulated to prevent the pipe from freezing in the future. Carpeting, wall material and floor tile were removed as necessary, according to Wohl.

“We’re still in response mode,” said Wohl, adding that most city and county documents were stored on elevated shelves and were not damaged during the incident, but the contractor hired was able to save the county papers that were in contact with water.

“The main concern is a piece of election equipment used (for) county absentee ballots and serves as a backup to the individual precinct scanners,” said County Auditor Kevin Glatt, estimating that damage to the election equipment could exceed $50,000.

Reach LeAnn Eckroth at 701-250-8264 or