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Third flooding incident at Government Center leaves ‘minor’ damage to three floors

For the third time in two months, there has been an issue with the plumbing that has led to flooding inside the Columbus Government Center, according to the chief judge in Muscogee County.

The latest incident with a toilet occurred Sunday and caused water damage on the fourth, third and second floors of the tower, said Chief Superior Court Judge Gil McBride, who surveyed the damage Sunday night.

“The leak seems to have started on the fourth floor in a restroom,” McBride said. “The parts of the building that I saw had soaked carpet on a third floor hearing room, an investigator’s office next door, and portions of the clerk’s office on the second floor.”

The water does not seem to have damaged any of the records in the Superior Court clerk’s office on the second floor, McBride said.

“The situation is still being assessed,” McBride said.

The top two floors of the building have been unusable since June 18 when a 12th-floor water main feeding the boiler broke and dumped about 36,000 gallons of water into the building, leaving courtrooms and other offices on floors under water. The second flooding incident happened on June 30 following repair work by the city maintenance staff on a fourth-floor toilet.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley also surveyed the situation Sunday night.

“Compared to what we have had the first and second time, this is minor,” Hugley said.

In the first two situations, ServPro was called in to clean up the mess. On Sunday, city crews handled the clean up, Hugley said.

The building will operate as normal on Monday, Hugley said.

Maintenance work was being done on a fifth floor toilet with the water cut off, Hugley said. Later, an issue with a toilet on the fourth floor was reported, Hugley said.

The city and the court system have been dealing with the impact of that for two months.

A half dozen judges have had their offices moved out of the Government Center and into a downtown office building a couple of blocks away. Criminal trials and hearings have been moved to the two courtrooms adjacent to the Muscogee County jail and into a makeshift courtroom in the old Columbus Council chambers on the Government Center’s plaza level. Some civil court proceedings have been shifted to neighboring Harris County and one trial was held in a room at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.

The latest flooding impacted a small third-floor courtroom that judges have been using for domestic hearings.

“Building maintenance is trying to dry out the carpet because these hearings take place at least four days each week and have to be heard to make sure kids are situated in custody cases, support is paid, etc.,” McBride said in an email.