Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Rough Week For The Coggs Building

The Marcia P. Coggs Human Service Building, which used to be an old Shuster's Department Store, currently houses many Milwaukee County departments as well as the state's income maintenance program.

The building, and the people that work inside of it, have had better weeks.

Addressing some of the long overdue deferred maintenance and repairs that Scott Walker left behind, the county had a contractor doing repairs to the roof of the building last week.  On Friday, before knocking off for the weekend, the contractors failed to properly cover an exposed part of the roof.

When a major thunderstorm hit the Milwaukee area on Saturday, rain poured into the exposed area of the roof and seeped throughout the building.  Most of the damage appears to be localized to the north central part of the building.

On Monday morning, workers were greeted with wet ceiling tiles that were sagging or already fallen and carpeting so wet it squished when walked upon.  The water damage also knocked the phones out for the entire day on Monday.  They also had to shut down the escalators, located in the center of the building.

To the county's credit, they had a fire and water damage salvage crew their early on Monday.  They started cutting out the baseboards of the walls and setting up drying fans, dehumidifiers and air purifiers to start the drying process and prevent mold from forming.

On Tuesday, the phones were back on, but the clean up still continued. The crews were removing wet papers, soggy carpeting and stripping down ruined drywall.

I have been told that the air is being continuously being tested and deemed safe for people.  I've also been told that the building had its abestos removed during a renovation fifteen years ago.  But I also know that a lot of people were having respiratory issues, and those of us with allergies appeared to be suffering the most.

Here's some pictures that I took of the clean up:

They have plastic sheeting hanging throughout the
building to create "drying boxes."

One of the hallways with the baseboards cut out and
drying fans lined up to blow the moisture out of the walls.

One of the lobbies with an array of fans and a purifier.
This area is enclosed in plastic. Notice the missing ceiling tiles
and the wall behind the desk is scraped down.

Then on Wednesday, the building got hit with a new issue. A grocery store across the street from the building started burning. The fire ended up being a five alarm fire before too long. The smoke was billowing so much it was causing problems on the freeway and could be smelled a mile away.

The Coggs Building was filled with foul-smelling smoke and they quickly ran out of facemasks to filter out the smoke and whatever else has been floating around in the toxic-smelling air.

Operations evacuated the public by 9 am and told county workers to leave by 9:30 am, but to come back at noon. Shortly thereafter, I received word that the building was closed for the day.  County Executive Chris Abele has stated that the building is expected to be open tomorrow, but gave us a hotline phone number to call to make sure.  (I have had someone call me already saying that Channel 58 is reporting the building is closed until Monday, but I'll wait until I have the official word before I believe it.)

Walker made the state income maintenance workers stay in the smoke-filled building until Abele officially closed the building.

Here's some pictures I took before they evacuated us. They are all pretty much the same view, but I am posting several so that the gentle reader may get an better idea of what the billowing smoke was like:

So, we've had a flood and a fire.  I hear tomorrow is going to be an earthquake and/or tornado.  Friday is booked for a plague of locusts.

So, how's your week going?


  1. I like you. Laughing in the face of adversity and continuing to call out the bad guys.

  2. I hope everyone is ok. Looks like the fire fighters did a great job.