State Constitution safe after flood at archives office

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Washington State Constitution and other state treasures survived a close call when the state archives office in Olympia was hit with a flood from a broken water pipe.

The damage was discovered early Friday morning as the first workers arrived. After the water was shut off, archive specialists quickly began airing out the 10,000 precious documents that got wet before mold and permanent damage set in.

The top floor of the building had a couple of inches of water on the floor, which seeped down into the next level causing water to cascade onto the boxes filled with such items as birth and death certificates, land deeds and vital statistics.

"We're not going to lose a single one, so that's the good news," said State Archivist Steve Excell.

Excell and others are worried it could happen again, and that's why there's urgency to get a new archives building.

The 52-year-old building was filled to capacity five years ago and Excell says it's designed all wrong. It's subterranean which means any water break from above will cascade right down on the precious documents.

"We're just glad it didn't happen on Friday evening because you can imagine if we had Saturday and Sunday with a flood going continuously?" Excell said.

The Secretary of State has requested $250,000 to study a building a new state archives office. The 2014 legislature failed to produce the money, but there's hope the 2015 session will be fruitful, especially in light of this new flooding.