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Flooding forces closure of Durham County Courthouse

Posted September 18, 2015

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— The Durham County Courthouse was closed to the public Friday after a broken water valve caused flooding on the first, second and third floors of the building, officials said.

District Court Judge Marcia Morey said a main hot water valve on the third floor broke and dislodged. Water was ankle-deep in some areas and soaked papers and documents.

"There were several hours of heavy water running, coming down the stairwells," Morey said. "There are ceiling tiles that have come off the second and first floors, so it's not a safe place right now."

About 1,000 cases on the docket for the day were postponed, officials said.

The closure was an incovenience for many who had business to conduct there Friday, including Mario Goins, who came to pay a fine.

"It was a wasted drive," he said. "It was just a waste of time. Came all the way here, and the courthouse is closed, and we've got to go all the way back to Burlington."

County spokeswoman Dawn Dudley says about 500 documents in the estates division were soaked, but they can be salvaged.  

"We don't know exactly why it happened, exactly where the responsibility lies at this time, " Dudley said of the leak.

The courthouse is relatively new, opening in early 2013 at a cost of $119 million.

An estimate on the cost to repair the water damage was not immediately available.

Friday's deluge wasn't the first mishap to bedevil the building. Last summer, the "A" in "Durham" looked as if it was about to fall to the ground. The sidewalk was closed as workers put it back in place.

Morey said officials hope to re-open the courthouse Monday.

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