TEXARKANA, Ark. — Trucks were unloading furniture Wednesday at the Landmark building in downtown Texarkana as Miller County employees began settling in to new surroundings.
"We trying to get everything in order. We have had so many citizens reach out to offering to help move items," said Miller County Judge Cathy Harrison.
As the result of a water pipe burst that flooded the courthouse during last week's freezing weather, county officials had to find new temporary office space in a hurry.
The Landmark is offering space at an affordable price, Harrison said.
"It came down to the math," she said.
Now, just a few days after the flood, county employees are getting back to business.
Movers were carrying in desks and file cabinets, computers and other equipment.
"It's going well, the tech work has been pretty smooth," Harrison said.
Between 65 and 70 courthouse employees will be relocated.
Most county government officials will be on the second floor of the Landmark. The tax assessor will be on the first floor.
As of Thursday, the tax assessor was still working in the first floor of the courthouse but should be moved to the Landmark by Friday, Harrison said.
Harrison's secretary will be in the Landmark building but Harrison will mostly be mobile and travel between the different locations.
The Office of Emergency Management, the Veteran's services office and the Arkansas State Police will be in office space in the 400 block of Hazel Street, across from the courthouse.
The county extension office will be in the same building as the Miller County Senior Center on Jefferson Avenue.
Court will be held at the Miller County Sheriff's Office on East Street and quorum court meetings will be held at Texarkana Arkansas City Hall.
City Manager Kenny Haskin and Mayor Allen Brown have both reached out to offer support, Harrison said.
The county could receive as much as $15 million worth of insurance for the water damage. Harrison has also declared the event a disaster and FEMA could pay 75% of anything insurance does not pay.
Insurance will pay $2 million toward contents.
"A lot of old records got really wet. But there is a restoration process we are using where it freezes the paper and that helps to repair it. We hope to salvage most of it that way," Harrison said.
Harrison said she had walked all six floors of the courthouse Friday before the pipes burst.
"There had been a break on Tuesday (Feb. 16) night we shut the water off and had that dried out. Then this happened. My secretary showed up the next morning and found it," Harrison said.
"When she called me, I just threw on clothes and rushed over there. It looked like Niagara Falls."
Even though it could easily be over a year before employees are back in the courthouse, they will return eventually. And the 82-year-old courthouse will be better than ever.
A project to refurbish the first floor and fifth floor roof was already scheduled to begin this year.
"It will be like new," Harrison said.