LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) — The cleanup at the Nebraska State Penitentiary of a unit that flooded is going to take a lot longer than initially anticipated.
The unit, which housed 134 men, had to be evacuated late Wednesday due to a burst pipe but the extent of the damage wasn’t fully known until Friday.
“Based on preliminary estimates, this single incident could take the entire housing unit offline for the next one to two years. That’s how long it could take to go through all the steps to make the building suitable for occupation again,” said Nate Bornemeier, engineering administrator at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
Bornemeier said that the pipes that burst are old and made out of cast iron causing them to rot out of the bottom. These kinds of leaks have been seen over the past couple of years. But this particular leak caused major issues in the unit’s mechanical room, which operates doors, heating and cooling systems, steam, fire protections and the IT system for camera security. The water leak also caused about two and a half feet of mud to collect in the mechanical room along with some mud collecting in the unit itself.
The mud and flooding may have also caused issues with mold growth or perhaps a foundation issue underneath the building. The totality of the circumstances will not be known until the cleanup is further underway.
Only one unit was directly impacted. The rest of the facility went back to mostly normal operations on Friday though visits were set to be suspended throughout the weekend.
This unit has medium and maximum security inmates who required medical accommodations. The inmates will be housed at a new unit at the Reception and Treatment Center which was anticipated to house a different group of maximum security inmates, though those plans have been put on hold for the time being.
According to the press release, staff members are taking the time to address the needs of the inmates who are displaced. Deputy Director of Prisons Robert Madsen said addressing these concerns include ensuring that inmates get their personal property, receive their medication and also get any other needed accommodations.