Business seeps after flood at White River Junction building

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Some businesses were cleared to reopen Friday as cleanup and repairs continued at the 130-year-old Gates Briggs Building after a water main break Monday night flooded the building’s basement with an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 gallons of water .

Hartford Fire Chief Tom Peltier said he approved the temporary occupancy, allowing businesses in the building to reopen Friday after all conditions related to maintaining fire safety systems were restored to good working order.

The water line feeding the sprinkler system was still being repaired Friday afternoon, but the system was set up so a pump truck could deliver water, allowing residents to reopen. There are no residential units in the building.

While some businesses have reopened at limited capacity, others likely won’t be back for a week or more while they clean up. Kim Souza, owner of Revolution, announced that her business will be closed until August 29.

Although her basement only had about 8 inches of water, less than other parts of the building, she said the residual sludge still made a mess.

David Briggs, who manages the building for the family trust that owns it, said the clean-up would leave the building “as clean as a new build when it’s finished”.

The line break that flooded the basement continued to cause problems Friday as an 8-foot-deep hole 3 to 4 feet across opened up on the sidewalk on North Main Street near Tuckerbox.

City Manager Tracy Yarlott-Davis said the city is closing the sidewalk and parking spaces on that side of the street until an engineer determines what repairs need to be made.

Until the lines can be fully repaired and the water supply reconnected to the sprinkler system, the Tuckerbox and Piecemeal Pies restaurants will be limited to reduced occupancy, Yarlott-Davis said.

The Briggs Opera House upstairs is closed without electricity and is not permitted for occupancy.

Briggs said the electrical panel for the Opera House is in the basement and crews want to inspect it more carefully before determining if it is safe. A small theater production has been moved to the Coolidge Hotel, Briggs said.

Briggs said work is progressing, but it will be up to the supply chain to determine how long repairs will take.

“Critical tasks are completely dependent on equipment supply lines,” Briggs said, adding that two key pieces of equipment are usually on the shelf, but he won’t know their availability until Monday.

Once the equipment is in hand, installation is a two-day job, Briggs said.

“It could be completed by the end of next week, but it could also take a long time,” Briggs said.

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