Wet mess: Walden's office gets flooded

Water mains burst, affecting multiple businesses on North Central Avenue

It's still business as usual for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden's Medford staff, just from places other than his office.

Staff members are working from alternate locations in the aftermath of a flood caused by two burst water mains in the office building at 14 N. Central Ave.

Keep those pipes from freezing

Frozen pipes are a hazard of a long, cold spell, but simple steps can prevent damage, according to State Farm spokesman Brad Hilliard.

"Water damage is one of the most common causes of home insurance claims," Hilliard said. "Frozen pipes are a big part of it."

He said opening cabinet doors to let in heat near pipes and keeping faucets running at a slow trickle can prevent pipes from freezing as temperatures drop into the teens and below.

"Those are two tips that can save you if you haven't had it burst yet," he said.

Changes in water flow can help people determine whether their pipes have frozen.

"If it comes out and it quits, that means you have a freeze in the pipe," he said.

Hilliard said that shutting off water at the first sign of frozen pipes can be the difference between a small mess and a big problem.

"If you do have a pipe burst open, immediately turn off the water supply as soon as possible," he said. "If you catch it right away, it can be just a case of cleaning it up."

Applying towels to the mess and lifting up wet carpet also can help.

"If you get a lot of water on carpet you'll need to get the pad pulled out," he said.

Hilliard also encouraged homeowners with water damage to call their insurance agent so they can put them in touch with a water mitigation specialist.

"Cutting it off as quickly as possible is the first thing to do," he said.

"There's no water or heat," Comm-unications Director Andrew Malcolm said. "Our staff is working at alternate locations."

But the Oregon Republican's staff still is available to help.

"If people need immediate assistance, they're encouraged to call our office in Washington, D.C.," Malcolm said. The number is 202-225-6730.

Damp carpet, bubbling walls and brown ceiling tiles were all the product of a water main that burst above the conference room and flowed downstairs to Sentinel Security and other businesses below.

"The water was just cascading down," Deputy Chief of Staff Colby Marshall said as he pointed to the damage in Walden's office.

Electronics, including a teleconferencing system in the conference room, appeared to be safe. A couple of photos hung on the other side didn't fare as well, including a photograph signed by former Congressman Denny Smith, with whom Walden served as chief of staff, and former Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyeh.

The water damage was mitigated at Walden's office thanks to the quick work of a cleaning crew that first spotted the damage while working Sunday, according to Marshall.

"The cleaning crew saved our bacon on this," Marshall said. "Had the cleaning crew not found this, it would've run all day."

He added that they were lucky to have them there on Sunday.

"They normally come in Fridays," Marshall said.

The cleaning crew called the fire department to stop the water.

"The Medford Fire Department arrived and shut the water off to the whole building," Marshall said.

A thermometer showed 45 degrees inside as workers from Johnson Controls inspected pipes from the building's boiler because it showed signs of also having frozen.

"They're isolating one thermostat at a time," said Bill Geiger of Sentinel Security. "When we're done with that, then we'll start with the repairs."

Although Walden's business can carry on fairly easily, others in the building were more affected.

Employees doing cleanup at Christian's Downtown Pharmacy had no choice but to pull the gate closed and turn customers away while the HVAC workers inspected the building.

"I'd like to be open tomorrow," pharmacy owner Isaac Wine said, adding that his staff is ready to reassemble the pharmacy once repairs are complete.

Wine and his staff were cleaning up after a second water main in the building near the business burst. Wine added that they were ready to reassemble the pharmacy as soon as the building was ready.

Reach newsroom assistant Nick Morgan at nmorgan@mailtribune.com.

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