About the National Archives

Remarks on Flooding, June 26, 2006

TEXT of Archivist's remarks on June 26, 2006, regarding the flooding at the National Archives Building in Washington.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon, friends of the National Archives Assembly.

My role today is a very simple one, which is to say a few words and get off the stage quickly so we can go on to the proceedings of the town hall and that I would have done, except I wanted to convey some information that I think most of you have had in one form or another but perhaps can use some more specifics on.

Last night’s rains have resulted in a power outage and serious flooding at Archives I, and, as you know, we closed the building today.

Because of clogged storm drains along Constitution Avenue, water entered Archives I through the east and west driveways. And because of a Pepco power outage, which also affected a number of other Federal buildings in the area, our pumps were not able to remove the water as it came in.

As a result, there has been water damage in the moat, the sub-basement and some parts of the basement level. The William McGowan Theater, which I saw this morning as I walked through it, also suffered significant damage by flood waters as high as the stage and a few rows of seats.

Emergency power is now on in the building, and the sprinkler and security systems are, I’m happy to say, continuing to be operational.

As of noon today, emergency crews were continuing to pump out water in the sub-basement, so the electrical equipment located there, in the sub-basement, can be restarted to restore our air handling system throughout the building.

Our key conservators have already been in the building, and preliminary inspection showed that there appears to be no water damage, I stress no water damage, to any records, any records, in our extensive holdings. The conservators are making preparations for continued on-site monitoring to assure protection of the records in our holdings. And we will be bringing in outside experts to cope with the water damage.

Finally, we are all grateful to the facilities staff and other NARA staff who remained throughout the night at their post to contain the damage. When I got there early this morning, they were working away. Their continued efforts are helping to make the building safe not only for the vital records stored there, but for staff, researchers, visitors. And just for any of them who happen to be within earshot of this, I want to thank them properly.

Archivist of the United States