Water break forces county Rath Building to close

Apr 22, 2019

Many Erie County employees got an unexpected day off Monday when a major water break forced the closing of the Rath Building.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the flooding occured around 7 a.m. on parts of the second through fifth floors, which are mostly occupied by the Department of Social Services. He says the break was caught quickly because a building engineer heard the system rupture.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says water damage is significant on several floors of the Rath Building.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

"Unfortunately, it caused damage to the ceilings. It was dripping through the various floors. We have to go in and determine that the electrical lines haven't been compromised on those floors," Poloncarz said. "It's going to take some time."

The break came from a bursting of the main heating and cooling unit. Poloncarz says water also got into some elevators and staircases. No one was injured.

Members of the public who had appointments will have them rescheduled in the near future. Poloncarz says in case of emergency most county records and all emails are stored in duplicate electronically, both in-house and in secure off-site servers.

Late Monday afternoon, Poloncarz announced the building will reopen on Tuesday with some limitations that will impact select county employees and members of the public.

Offices located on the third and fourth floors of the Rath Building will remain closed Tuesday. County employees who normally work in offices located on those two floors are asked to not report to work. Members of the public who had appointments scheduled with a specific county department on either the third or fourth floor will have to reschedule.