Workers had to dig a hole in the first floor to reach and repair pipes at the Maine State House in Augusta. The capitol building was shut down Monday and remained closed Tuesday because of a burst pipe that caused flooding on the first floor and in the pedestrian tunnel leading the Burton M. Cross building. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The State House remained closed to the public Tuesday for the second day in a row and was expected to remain closed for the rest of the week following a burst water pipe.

A Badger Hydrovac truck is parked outside the Maine State House in Augusta on Tuesday. The capitol building was shut down Monday and remained closed Tuesday because of a burst pipe that caused flooding on the first floor and in the pedestrian tunnel leading to the Burton M. Cross building. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The burst impacted the first floor of the building, as well as the pedestrian tunnel leading to the Burton M. Cross building, according to a press release sent Tuesday from the office of the presiding officers.

“At the start of Monday, the fire department showed up at a moment’s notice and everyone in the building was able to evacuate,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, in a joint statement. “Crews worked overnight to repair the damage and ensure lawmakers and nonpartisan staff can get back into the building to complete the people’s work as soon as possible.”

Jackson and Fecteau noted that the public can continue to follow along with the Maine Legislature online as lawmakers wrap up committee work.

The cause of the pipe burst was still under investigation Tuesday. The water in the State House has been shut off in addition to the electricity on the first floor as a safety measure, the news release said.

Officials said they didn’t yet know the extent of the damage.

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“Some carpets are going to have to be replaced,” said Suzanne Gresser, executive director of the Maine Legislature. “Once we have a better sense of how effective the drying is, we’ll have a better sense of what we need to do.”

The Maine State House in Augusta will be closed to the public the rest of the week to allow for more drying and clean-up. Photo courtesy of the Maine State Legislature

Legislative duties were not impacted and were held online Tuesday, Gresser said.

Gresser said Tuesday evening the State House will not be open to the public Wednesday as the water is dried up, although some staff may begin coming back. There will not be a session Thursday, she said.

A follow-up statement late Tuesday confirmed that the presiding officers, Fecteau and Jackson, canceled Thursday’s legislative session to allow more time for drying and cleaning the area.

“The canceled session day will also allow legislative committees to complete outstanding work before the floor session schedule picks up next week,” according to the statement. “The State House will remain closed to the public for the remainder of the week.”

 

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