Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 3, 2014

Courthouse flood takes high ground

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — It was stunning news for a bride and her wedding party when they strolled into the Garvin County Courthouse on Friday only to learn parts of the facility were closed because of some major water damage.

Their planned wedding ceremony, to be conducted by a Garvin County judge, was among the many things impacted by the flooding, which has shut down both the second and third floors for a few days.

That includes Monday, March 3 as county commissioners are expected to assess the damage even further and discuss their options.

It all came down in the overnight hours leading into early Thursday morning when the flooding inside the courthouse was discovered.

“The court clerk’s office had the most damage,” said County Clerk Lori Fulks.

Fulks and others explained the cause of the flooding was a coil in an air conditioning unit placed just above the ceiling tiles in that very same court clerk’s office on the courthouse’s third floor.

It’s believed the coil froze up causing it to break, while at the same time water continued to be pumped through the A/C unit resulting in the flooding.

“Water was spewing everywhere,” Fulks said.

Before the flooding was discovered it’s estimated two or three inches of water had covered much of the floor on the third level with the water reaching some parts of the largest courtroom.

Water then seeped down flooding parts of the building’s second floor.

“When I got here I found water in the land records room,” Fulks said. “Water was coming out from the ceiling.”

Just about anyone associated with the courthouse building sprung into emergency mode as most of Thursday was spent getting the flooded water out of the building.

Helping out with the work were employees from various courthouse offices, crews from all three county commissioner districts and even some inmates from county jail.

That was followed by large fans being strategically placed to help dry out the impacted areas on Friday.

“It’s been a disaster,” said County Treasurer Sandy Goggans, who got the bad news when called early Thursday morning. “They told me my office was flooded.

“When I got to my office there was about two inches of water on the floor,” she said.

"We had water running on our front counter, down the windows. We had water running everywhere. It flooded most of the third floor and parts of the second floor.

“It will be a quite an undertaking for some to come.”

For now it remains to be seen how much damage was sustained by computers and other equipment in the impacted areas.

At least through Monday those top two floors will remain closed to the public, which does have access to the courthouse’s ground floor.