Museum Security Network

Flood damages archives at depot

By MICHAEL PETERSON Argus-Press Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 9:58 AM EST
DURAND – A water pipe that froze and burst flooded the more than 100-year-old Durand Union Station Monday.

Officials say, though, because of the Durand Fire Department’s quick response and the help of others, a major disaster was averted.

The burst pipe was located in the attic/storage area of the depot. When it burst, water began flooding into the room. The water soaked through the ceiling and began spreading through the depot’s library and archives. The room containing a model railroad also received some damage.

An alarm went off at approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday and the Durand Fire Department responded immediately.

“The fire department got here quickly and cut off the water supply,” said Don Westcott, president of the Durand Union Station, Inc., Board of Directors. “I don’t think we are going to lose a lot of the documents.”

Vice President Dan Brooks agreed.

“A lot of the damage looks superficial at this point,” he said.

Durand Union State Director Connie Cobley said when she heard the news she was in shock.

“You’re just sick because you know there is so much history in this building,” she said.

But she also was thankful for the help from the fire department.

“I was stunned how fast the Durand Fire Department came in,” Cobley said. “They immediately moved everything they physically could and then they set up all the tables so we could get things up and drying…They could’ve left.”

Brooks added he was very thankful for the alarm system, especially since the depot, built in 1903, is normally closed Mondays.

“If the alarm hadn’t been triggered by the pressure release in the valve, the water would’ve kept on running for who knows how long,” Brooks said. “Until Tuesday morning perhaps? It would have been a total disaster.”

Firefighters, volunteers and staff worked until about 11 p.m. Monday and then continued Tuesday morning.

There appears to be a minimal amount of damage to the library, but the depot’s archives will be closed until further notice. The extent of the damage to the archives has yet to be determined.

Maps and other historic documents, some dating back to the 1920s, were set out on tables in the depot’s ballroom to dry.

“These were in a map case with water pouring on top of them,” Cobley said. “Some of these were sopping wet.”

She added they have contacted the Alfred P. Sloan Museum in Flint and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office on how to proceed.

Stanley Builders, a Flushing-based business that does insurance work and remodeling services, was hired to help with damage control and restoration.

“I didn’t realize there was so much expertise in reclamation for water, but they were really good,” Cobley said.

The monetary amount of damage caused by the water is unknown at this point.

“The reclamation crew estimated last night – based on the tank – they had over 200 gallons of water,” Brooks said. “Of course, that doesn’t count the amount of water collected overnight with the dehumidifiers and other equipment they have running.”

The depot will remain closed until Saturday.

Cobley said the depot was nearing the 30-year anniversary of the start of its restoration and were planning a celebration at the end of February.

“So, now we are back to restoration again,” she said with a sigh.

– Contact Michael Peterson at 725-5136 extension 223 or

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