(La Porte, IN) - A crazy weather weekend got even crazier when a burst water pipe flooded the La Porte County Complex building. Situated next to the courthouse, the County Complex serves as the central meeting place for La Porte County government and is home to the Sheriff's Department as well as the County Jail.
The massive leak occurred somewhere at the 5th floor level due to a frozen sprinkler pipe. Water cascaded all the way down to the basement and caused significant damage. County Commissioner Joe Haney and Commissioner-elect Connie Gramarossa met with county maintenance supervisors and insurance reps Monday afternoon and are working on a plan to clean up.
Haney said an exterior trim piece likely blew off the building during the weekend storm, allowing frigid temperatures and strong winds to penetrate the interior. The sprinkler pipe froze and burst sometime Christmas morning. The flooding was discovered Sunday afternoon by a county employee doing a routine check.
Haney said right now they’re working closely with the county’s insurance provider and trying to keep the damage from getting worse. “We’re in the very preliminary phases now. Our local [insurance] carrier came out; we’re being assigned a claims team,” he told HTNN Monday evening. “Because of the scale of what we’re looking at—multiple floors—we’re being assigned a special team that’s going to come in and take a look at everything.” Right now, Haney said, the focus is to mitigate further damage. Drying fans and dehumidifiers are being placed in the building to prevent mold.
Haney said some county offices look like a total loss, while others were untouched by water. On Tuesday employees will retrieve whatever belongings they can. According to Haney, many county offices, such as Treasurer, Auditor, Surveyor, legal courts, and Sheriff’s Department, operate out of other buildings or were not badly damaged, so their normal services should not be affected. He said the County Building Department was the hardest hit.
The flooding did not affect the County Jail, which is housed in a different area of the building; there is no threat to public safety. However, the County Complex will be closed to public access until further notice. We’ll provide more details as this situation develops.