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      Bland city hall in ruins after water main break

      Officials in this Gasconade County town said Sunday it will be at least six months before they can move back into city hall.

      Like many boil-water orders, the one imposed on Bland from Friday morning to early Sunday afternoon resulted from a water main break. What made this one different was the main that broke was directly under city hall. When an eight-inch pipe broke in the early morning hours of Feb. 7, everything in the building ended up under three feet of water. Officials were forced to set up shop in the recreational room of Bland's First Baptist Church, the Board of Aldermen convening just feet from pallets of water brought in while the order was in effect. Municipal court documents were spread out on tables and hung from clotheslines in an effort to dry them.

      City clerk Rachel Anderson told KRCG 13 the building itself can be saved but everything inside has been ruled a total loss. She said officials do not yet know how many documents they will lose, but she noted wryly that even "waterproof" safes and file cabinets had water in them.

      "We've been coming in, going through all the waterlogged files, pulling them out of the drawers and file cabinets, boxing them up in totes and taking them to the church," she said.

      Even the concrete foundation floor will have to be redone. Crews had to cut a nearly seven-foot-wide hole in the floor to get to the broken pipe, and the force of the initial break cracked the floor from one end of the main room to the other.

      Anderson said it looks like insurance will cover the losses. She said the city has already rerouted water away from the broken pipeline to prevent any further flooding. When the weather warms up, she said the city will install a new pipe that bypasses city hall to prevent a flood like this from happening again.