Human Resources building remains closed until further notice - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Human Resources building remains closed until further notice

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - One of Albany's largest office buildings is still a huge mess, two days after being flooded by an indoor sprinkler system.

A fourth floor water sprinkler spewed water for more than an hour inside the Department of Human Resources building on West Oglethorpe early Wednesday.

Work is being done around the clock to dry out the towering building that sustained damage on every floors.

In the meantime, people who work in that building are working from other locations.

45,000 gallons of water poured into the building from a ruptured sprinkler head.

The good news is the weather is cooperating in this massive clean up project.

The four story building is once again ringed by generators and air compressors, with several hundred fans and dehumidifiers on every floor.

"First we are doing the dehumidification. We're bringing warm dry air into the building, extracting moist air, said Servpro of Albany owner Buddy Fitzgerald"

On Friday, the sign on the front door of the Department of Human Resources says closed, but there is an employee there giving directions and phone numbers to people who come up seeking help.

State officials say the building hosts more than 300 employees in offices for Family and Children Services and other D.H.R. divisions.

That include handling everything from behavioral health, food stamps, medicaid, child support and child protection services.

All those employees are now in other buildings, but state officials say they are still able to handle all their responsibilities through computer or phone.

They will be out through at least Tuesday.

County officials say they are still not sure what caused the sprinkler to malfunction, but they know it poured out between 45,000 and 60,000  gallons of water before it could be stopped.

"We still don't have any idea. We just know a sprinkler head was activated on the fourth floor," said Dougherty County Technical services coordinator Donald Hood.

The fire department received an alarm notice from the security company that the sprinkler system had gone off, and turned it off 20 minutes after they arrived.

But officials don't know how long it ran before the alarm sounded.

"I think that sprinkler head was putting out like 700 gallons a minute, I think it was. We are not sure if it ran for an hour or two hours," said Fitzgerald.

First officials are working to dry out the building, with as little damage as possible.

"We're monitoring continuously the walls, the carpeting, the floors, the furniture, the contents. Just really keeping a close eye on the moisture readings in the building," said Fitzgerald.

That work will continue around the clock until Tuesday morning, when county and state officials will meet again to determine when the building can be re-opened.

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