A few weeks back on April 26, 2014 at the Washington State Archives and Records Center in Olympia, sometime late on the previous Thursday night or during the early morning hours on Friday, a water pipe burst and began flooding the building. By the time employees came to work around 7:00 am, they discovered a flood of water that had affected around 10,000 documents, including the original Washington State Constitution.
Since the flooding happened on the top floor, the water seeped down into other areas of the building, and into archived documents, which included things such as marriage records, death and birth certificates, deeds, and other vital documents.
Fortunately, all of the documents were able to be saved. The reason that the Archives and Records Center was able to save those 10,000 precious documents is because they were able to IMMEDIATELY contact water damage experts to begin the water removal and drying out process. Had the water damage happened over the weekend it may have been too late to save the documents.
Many people think that the first person they should call when indoor flooding occurs is their insurance company, but the key to restoration is quick action in getting the water removed and the moisture dried out. Structural elements as like walls and carpet, as well as personal effects, like documents, have a much better chance of being saved if a restoration company can begin work immediately. Luckily this was the case at the archives office and everything was saved, including our state constitution!
Key Lessons Learned:
- For those of you living in Washington, other than turning off the water main the first thing you should do in this situation is call Cascade Restoration at 425-949-2771!
- Broken pipes can occur anywhere, anytime, especially in older structures. If you live in an older home or work in an older building, it is a good idea to get an inspection of your pipes. Here are some good tips for conducting an annual plumbing inspection. https://www.disastersafety.org/disastersafety/annual-plumbing-inspection/
Keep in mind that there are billions of dollars in water damage claims happening in the United States every year and that many of those occur due to pipe issues such as the archive office experienced. Check out our article on water damage risk factors to be sure you are doing everything you can to avoid indoor flooding!