“It looks like a giant frown,” Mark Wellman, chief of staff to Rep. Steve Chabot, said of the gaping crack stretched across the front of a 65-gallon aquarium that inexplicably burst Monday, showering the Ohio Republican's personal office in constantly aerated freshwater and shell-shocked sea life.
Chabot spokesman Adam Scheidler told HOH the pet-astrophe occurred around 2 p.m. Monday.
“They heard a big ‘whoosh’ and rushed in here to see what had happened,” Scheidler said of the two congressional aides who happened to be in the office when the tank glass suddenly fractured and gave way. Staff rushed to save as many of the floppy, gasping fishies as they could by dumping them into water-filled trash bins, but Scheidler calculates that 10 to 12 of the more than three dozen occupants of the original tank did not survive the transition to the new aquarium.
Per Scheidler, Chabot purchased that first tank for himself around last Christmas, getting his new hobby going with about a dozen tiny tenants.
“He buys ’em small and grows ’em big,” Wellman said of Chabot’s burgeoning collection of swimmers.
Along with a replacement tank, Chabot picked up a few rotating table fans — dutifully sweeping air from side-to-side across the still damp, deep blue carpeting during our visit — and a personal shop vac to tidy up the aftermath of the afternoon drama.
But other offices suffered lingering effects. There was some minor water damage to the offices of Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., (Chabot’s spill leaked through their respective roofs) and the spill delayed staff from entering the building early Tuesday morning.
“We hope that Nemo survived,” one House staffer said of the episode.
The Architect of the Capitol did not respond to calls requesting an assessment of the damage incurred by Chabot or any of the surrounding offices.
Scheidler said AOC crew members mostly concentrated on the soggy carpeting (they used a shop vac). And he assured HOH that Chabot is prepared to cover the costs of cleaning up the mess.