NORTH OGDEN -- It took two months, but employees and residents finally have full access to the city offices here.
The offices suffered a serious sewage backup Oct. 26, and city officials thought it would take only a few days to clean up, but those few days turned into two months after mold was discovered in several places in the building and had to be removed.
Employees have slowly moved back in during the past week. Several employees aren't quite back in yet, but that's because they've been out of the office for the holidays, said City Recorder Annette Spendlove.
All the windows in the building, which were a source of mold before, have been recaulked and sealed. Three of the offices have had HEPA filtration systems installed, and all the holes in the attic -- another mold source -- have been sealed.
Mold also was found in the records room, but it was from a previous problem. Spendlove said the city thought it all had been cleaned up, but when the mold tests were done, more was found there. That also has been cleared out.
The sewage backup, which started the trouble in the first place, was caused by a leak in the system, which also has been fixed.
Spendlove said the city engineer will come to the council with suggested improvements to the sewage lines to prevent the problem from happening again.
Building official Gary Kerr said a backflow device was put on the outside of the building, so if another clog or other problem arises, sewage won't back up inside the building. Such a device wasn't part of the building code when the building was constructed, but it is now, so basically the building is up to code, he said.
"Anything can happen. The backflow device could get caught or something like that, but I feel reasonably sure that something like this won't happen again in my lifetime," Kerr said.
Spendlove said the process has been difficult at times, but she has been impressed with how smoothly things have gone within the city, considering the circumstances.
City employees in the building were temporarily housed in the community services building, and some spent time in the CERT trailers in the parking lot.
The public works department helped with a lot of the physical work that needed to be done, and all the departments chipped in to help with employees moving out and back into the building.
"This was in addition to their regular jobs," Spendlove said. "Everyone has been so nice and so good to us."
The city offices now have new carpeting and some new furniture because of the damage caused by water and sewage. New walls in some parts of the building were also necessary.
The cost of the sewage backup was completely covered by insurance; no deductible was even needed because of a special rider to which the city had previously agreed.
The cost of fixing the mold problem is still in question because not all the charges have been given to the city yet, Spendlove said.
So far, bills come to about $2,600, but Spendlove isn't sure what the total is yet. Both she and Mayor Richard Harris have said the city learned a lot about disaster preparedness from this experience, and officials feel more competent to handle other disasters, knowing more about what to do and what not to do.
"Right now we are just glad to be back," Spendlove said.