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Rain leaks into basement of North Dakota Capitol, but documents stay dry

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Capitol is drying out after runoff from last week’s rain leaked into the basement.

Physical Plant Director Loren Haid said water seeped into the Capitol’s storage area where documents are kept for the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Human Services and other state agencies.

The documents are on pallets and didn’t get wet from the thin film of water that covered parts of the floor and pooled up to a half-inch deep in low spots, Haid said.

Staff noticed the seepage after about three-quarters of an inch of rain fell in Bismarck on May 10, he said. Runoff flowed through an unsealed gap between the building and concrete slab that was poured last year as part a roughly $5 million facelift of the Capitol’s north side.

Haid said the project’s contractor began caulking the gap on May 11, but more rain Thursday caused further seepage through cracks in the foundation of the Capitol.

“In a perfect world, it’d be nice to seal the foundation, but an 80-year-old foundation, there are cracks, water seeps in,” he said. “So they just seal it from top … to get the water running away from the building outside.”

The gap was sealed before Saturday’s downpour, and Haid said he didn’t see any additional seepage from weekend rains that totaled about 2.7 inches at the Bismarck airport, according to the National Weather Service.

A cleaning and restoration service vacuumed the water and was using fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the space, which runs mostly beneath the Capitol’s legislative wing but also partially under the nearly 242-foot-tall tower, Haid said.

“I would say in the next two days it should be back to normal,” he said.

The Capitol experienced a similar bout of seepage during the construction project last summer, he said.

The contractor, Maertens-Brenny Construction Co. Minneapolis, will pay for the cleanup, he said.

“In fact, it probably did some good. We need to mop the floor now and then anyhow,” Haid  said.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.