If you’ve been anywhere near a radio or television you’ve no doubt seen something of the flooding all up and down the East coast. Some of the flooding, unfortunately, was in Washington, specifically the National Archives building. For those of us who depend on the NA to keep all those precious documents safe, this is very worrisome.
Four days after the deluge, the Archives remained dark and airless as officials took a small army of reporters and television crews on a tour of the damage, which they say will cost $2 million to repair. Only three years ago, the Archives completed a $100 million renovation.Yesterday, the building had no running water and no working restrooms. In the basement, lines of grime stained the walls, marking the level to which the floodwaters had risen. Clumps of debris — burgundy carpet, soggy drywall and beige ceiling tiles — were piled here and there. The air was thick, dank and sour.
“It’s starting to smell like the bayou, isn’t it?” said Tim Edwards, the Archives’ facility manager, sweat beading on his forehead as he led the way, the churning hum of a half-dozen generators in the background.
Despite the damage, the Archives still plans to host its annual Fourth of July ceremony on its front steps, during which the Declaration of Independence is read aloud. But Weinstein could not say when the building will reopen to the public.
Let’s hope that the damage was minimal and the Archives will soon reopen.