The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 29, 2009

Creaks and noises, then collapsed roof

St. James lumber company's warehouse caves due to snow

ST. JAMES — A few more seconds of listening to those noises coming from the roof of the lumber warehouse could have been disastrous for Vaughn Nordhausen.

The manager at Overson Lumber in St. James was checking out cracked rafter supports in the building Sunday afternoon as a couple other guys were raking about 5 feet of snow off the roof. He knew it was time to get out when he noticed other supports were cracked and the noises started.

“I heard creaking and crumbling and that’s when I knew it was falling,” Nordhausen said. “I thought I got out in plenty of time, but another guy who was there said I made it by a couple feet at best.

“Needless to say, for a few minutes after that we were all kind of quiet.”

Owner Lynn Overson, who was working in an office in the adjoining store, said he was relieved to find out none of his employees were hurt. He also was thankful the collapse happened on a Sunday when no customers were at the store.

It was too soon Tuesday to get an accurate estimate of the damage done because no one was allowed to go within the area of the collapsed warehouse, Overson said. He doesn’t know how much lumber or what other items were damaged inside, but he estimated the loss will be “well over” $200,000.

The good side of the collapse is it came between the Christmas and New Year holidays, Overson added. That tends to be a slow time for his business.

“We’ll be running smoothly,” he said. “We have five other yards so, if we need stuff, we can pull it out of there.”

Roadway’s Construction of St. James has been hired to start clearing the debris away today. Overson said he plans to rebuild as soon as possible.

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