Caltrans office in Fresno damaged by flooding

FRESNO, Calif.

Flood damage at the Manchester Mall offices kept almost 500 state employees away from work today.

Red signs warn Caltrans employees of an evacuation in progress at their Manchester Center offices.

From the outside, the signs of danger are invisible, but above the empty desks where nearly 500 design engineers and project managers usually work, the roof gave way to the pressure of heavy rain on Friday.

Maintenance crews from the mall tried to patch it up over the weekend, but their repairs were undone by a second round of rain Sunday.

"Right now, they're evaluating the damage to the roof. I believe there were some cracks in the roof and some other leaks," Caltrans spokesman Jose Camarena said.

The damage is to one of the oldest parts of Manchester Center and there's no timetable for full repairs.

The flood damage doesn't affect Caltrans road crews - they're housed in a different building - but it could postpone some future projects if the evacuation extends longer than a few days.

After giving design teams the day off Monday, Caltrans is looking into a possible Plan B.

Inspectors decided Monday afternoon that workers on the first floor should be able to get back to work Tuesday afternoon.

The rest will have to wait.

"We do have other sites - conference rooms, meeting rooms - that we can convert to temporary work stations if need be and I think that's what we're working with at least for this week," Camarena said.

Camarena says the damage covers about a quarter of the office space.

Since the state agency leases the office from Manchester Center, the repairs won't be billed to taxpayers.

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