'Overwhelming' amount of flooding shuts down Van Zandt Co. court - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

'Overwhelming' amount of flooding shuts down Van Zandt Co. courthouse Monday


Water flooded into the Van Zandt County courthouse over the weekend, forcing officials to completely shut down the building on Monday.

Officials said the leak started sometime between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, spending much of Monday cleaning up and starting the drying process.

A water pipe burst on one side of the courthouse and flowed all the way around the building and then began filling the basement.

County Judge Rhita Koches showed up to work in boots today, at the courthouse for cleanup instead of her normal hearings.

"It was overwhelming, it really was," Koches said. "Not only the magnitude, but when we've had rain before, we've had some sand. We've never had this much mud and dirt inside the building like this."

Koches said minor flooding is a consistent problem for the historic, concrete courthouse building, especially in its basement. In fact, county employees already had important documents and equipment off the ground and on palettes.

"I would not say we're prepared for it," said County Clerk Charlotte Bledsoe. "I would say we deal with it. I used to keep tabs of how many times the basement flooded. I lost track about three years ago. But, this is the only time we've had literal free-flowing water."

The flooding filled the building's elevator shaft with five feet of water. It also made its way to the boiler room, putting that equipment under over two feet of water.

Now, 24 professional drying fans are working overtime for the next three to four days, with county employees focusing their attention on cleanup and cost.

"We think we're well over 20 or 25 thousand dollars at this point," Koches said. "We've already talked to the Texas Historical Commission and they have told us we may be eligible for some grant money if we have to continue around the courthouse with this particular type of sealant on the basement walls."

Koches said no hearings were scheduled for Monday. She expects the courthouse to reopen at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

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