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Water damage closes Plaza Way library branch

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A fitting on a pipe broke and flooded half of the county library on Plaza Way last week.

The Walla Walla County Rural Library District building is expected to reopen after Christmas.

The emergency closure has delayed the celebration planned to welcome College Place residents to the library district and recognize Patsy Warnock Adams for her 13 years of service as a trustee.

The police were contacted by a U-B newspaper carrier who saw water leaking from the entrance door around 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 3.

Walla Walla Fire Department responded and turned the water off around 5:30 a.m. Firefighters pumped the remaining water with shop vacuums for two hours after finding the source, which was a pipe in a kitchen space at Number 1 Nails, next door to the library.

“There was standing water,” said Mundy Mulligan, the information technology manager at the library. “The floor evidently slopes downhill on this side (right side) … but it was over the top of my boots over here and just barely at all on this side (the left side).”

Five Star Disaster Services came with dehumidifiers and fans, which ran for almost a week to dry the library completely, he said.

To prevent mold, the sheetrock and insulation on the bottom walls were removed along with the baseboards. The carpet bubbled up and might have to be replaced, Mulligan said.

“The firemen were in here for two hours with shop vacs sucking water out to try to keep it from getting up into the books,” Mulligan said.

Some paperback books, though untouched by water, have wrinkles and water damage.

“There was so much humidity in here that it started soaking into the books on the shelves,” he said.

Staff will have to open each book to inspect for water damage and reorganize them, said Rhonda Gould, executive director of the Walla Walla County Rural Library District.

They are still unsure of the damage costs.

Mulligan said he thought Five Star Disaster Services had employees at the library for a whole week.

“I’m sure that’s going to be a fairly large bill. Plus all the repair, putting all the insulation back into the wall, the bottom part of the sheetrock,” Mulligan said.

The IT manager said the situation was a little disheartening.

“If the newspaper carrier hadn’t seen it, it would’ve been way worse. ‘Cause no one would’ve noticed it until 8 or 9,” Gould said.

Chloe LeValley can be reached at chloelevalley@wwub.com or 509-526-8326.