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Preston Town Hall damaged by sudden downpour July 1

Preston — It wasn’t Tropical Storm Fay, but a sudden heavy downpour on July 1 sent a rush of water against the left side wall of Town Hall that inundated ground-level window wells, streamed down the inside walls and across the floor to offices across the hall.

First Selectwoman Sandra Allyn-Gauthier told the Board of Selectmen on Thursday that the damage is being assessed and mostly will be covered by the town’s insurance through the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, with the town paying a $1,000 deductible.

The flooding occurred about 4 p.m. July 1, when offices were occupied, Allyn-Gauthier said, allowing town workers to quickly secure town equipment, such as printers and desktop computers. Fran Minor, municipal agent for the elderly, was in the senior affairs office and was the first to see the water coming in. She alerted Allyn-Gauthier and other town officials.

Allyn-Gauthier said no electronic equipment was on the floor. Town voting machines, stored in the lower level, were undamaged and town documents in the senior affairs, registrars, planning and zoning and assessor’s offices also were not damaged. The resident troopers’ office, in an opposite corner from the water deluge, was not damaged.

“Luckily, we were very quick,” Allyn-Gauthier said. “It was late in the afternoon. We were still there. We were successful moving printers, computers and processors were on desks, so not on the ground. ... I guess if it had to happen, it was a good time. If it had happened late at night, we would have had more damage.”

She thanked the town fire department and town workers for assisting with the cleanup.

To protect the window wells from future storms, two square pieces of plywood have been propped against the building over the window wells.

Along with assessing the water damage, Mystic Air Quality Consultants Inc. came to Town Hall on Wednesday to test for possible mold and moisture in the drywalls and floors and for possible lead and asbestos.

Allyn-Gauthier told the Board of Selectmen on Thursday that it is safe for workers in lower-level offices to continue to work there until remediation work is done. She will have an update on the extent of the damage and remediation requirements at the July 23 Board of Selectmen meeting.

“Depending on the level of remediation, we may need to temporarily relocate the lower level staff,” she said. “We’re looking at job pods or trailers. We’re still waiting for the overall report.”

Planning and zoning, building official, assessor, senior affairs, registrars and resident troopers offices are on the lower level. Some of the offices are not staffed regularly. Allyn-Gauthier said trailers would be needed for about five town employees.

c.bessette@theday.com

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