Life has returned to normal at the Pennsylvania Capitol building where a water main break disrupted work for most of the week.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, state workers were told to stay home, come in late or go home early, since the Capitol’s water system was down for the count. The employees who stayed had to use portable toilets, and were told to bring bottled water to work.
House Democratic staffer Bob Caton estimated about 15 percent of legislative employees toughed it out. “I’m an NFL season ticket holder,” he said. “I’m used to … port-o-johns. What I really felt bad for, though, there were so many school groups that were coming to the Capitol. And for these school kids, this is one of the biggest days of the year. Not only do you get out of class, but you get to see this amazing Capitol building.
“You get to go and do all kinds of cool tours. And those tours were kind of thrown off a little bit, and you had elementary school students waiting in long lines to use the port-o-johns at the back of the Capitol.” He said.
Many schools canceled their tours altogether.
Release after release from the governor’s office said “nonessential workers” were being asked to leave. Who made the cut for essential? Office of Administration spokesman Dan Egan explained “essential” employees typically held health and safety-related jobs. “So for the complex, that would include Capitol police, security, building maintenance and sanitation workers. A lot of the managers had to stay on, as well. They were considered essential,” he said.
In a statement, Gov. Tom Corbett thanked state employees who worked through the hassle.
“This week’s experience, while challenging, demonstrated that our contingency plans worked as designed,” he said. “Although some central offices were closed, the administration did not shut down and government operations statewide continued–just as taxpayers would expect. Administration-wide, essential employees reported to work every day and many other employees continued to work remotely.”
Harrisburg remains under a boil water advisory through Friday.