State offices closed in Philadelphia due to water main break

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Hundreds of Pennsylvania state employees were forced to stay home from work Monday because of a broken building water main.

The water main broke on Friday, heavily flooding the fourth through sixth floors of the Strawbridge's Building at 8th and Market, now leased by Pennsylvania state agencies including Philadelphia Human Services Department (DHS), the Public Utility Commission (PUC), State Police, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On Sunday night, the managers of some 280 state workers in the building were notified to inform their staffs of the office closure, but many told Action News they did not get that message and showed up for work only to be turned away.

The remediation process includes deploying powerful fans.

With the fans in place, state officials are setting up alternative work options and locations for employees and DHS clients to "ensure that the operations involving the employees at the site will continue without further interruption."

All online services continue uninterrupted.

The agencies are scheduled to release the alternative locations Monday night, but Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for the landlord, says the cleanup process went on all weekend and the state agencies may be able move back in virtually right away.

"The building's safe. This building is just drying out. We have hygienists and others experts there to make sure it stays safe," Feeley said.

The state agencies have occupied the building since 2009.

The flooding did not affect the third floor operations of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News.

The realtor is claiming they can dry the drenched floors and lay down new carpeting by sometime Tuesday.

In the meantime, the state continues to make contingency plans to get their employees back to work as soon as possible.
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