A portion of the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library roof apparently collapsed Saturday night and city crews worked quickly in saving historic memorabilia and the books inside.
Crosby Mayor Bob Novak said about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, a person was walking their dog past the library when they heard a loud boom, which sounded like the roof collapsing. The passerby called 911 and crews responded to the library on First Street Southeast in Crosby.
Novak said the flat part of the roof — which covers the middle of the building — is where the roof may have partially collapsed. Novak said it appeared the wet, heavy snow caved in, but it did not go completely through the ceiling to the floor. He said the snow pushed the insulation and some electrical wires through the ceiling. There are also cracks in the ceiling.
The power also went out and the water had to be shut off.
“What appears to be happening right now is the snow is more like hanging in the rubber shield along with the air conditioner,” Novak said. “Luckily, we have little water damage at this point. But we don’t know how secure the roof is hanging there right now.”
A good number of firefighters from the Crosby Fire Department responded and quickly removed the historic artifacts in the library. And instead of moving all the books out of the library, the city purchased plastic sheeting to cover about seven sections of books and protect them in case the ceiling collapses entirely.
“It was a long night,” Novak said for some of the responders. “In the middle of the night, we were not able to get up to the roof and we didn’t want anyone to go up there because it is dangerous. So far this morning everything is holding steady.”
Crosby’s Public Works Department and the city building inspector are working to get contractors on site, as well as the insurance company to assess the damage and what happened.
“We need someone to get out here to assess the situation, as we are not totally sure if the roof collapsed,” Novak said.
Novak said head librarian Abby Smith and City Administrator Lisa Sova will be coordinating with all the crews in fixing the structural damage.
Sova said the Crosby police and fire departments and the public works department responded and did a great job in moving all of Hallett’s special historic content to a safer location. Sova said during her eight years of being with the city she has never seen anything like the damage with the roof possibly collapsing.
“This is shocking,” Sova said. “The building was built in the ‘70s and it is not that old, in the life of the structure. But this has been an extraordinary year with the amount of snow and the weight of it because of the rain we had ... it’s like the perfect storm.
“At this point we are not sure that (the roof collapsing) is what happened. We are waiting for a structural engineer to come and make an assessment of what happened. It is all speculation at this point.”
Sova said the library will be closed, but they hope to get it open as fast as possible.
Smith was out of town when the damage occurred, but came to check things out Sunday afternoon when she got back to Crosby. Smith got a call from their security system people, as the alarms went off when the damage occurred. She said all the responders did what they could to help take the artifacts out of the library — items that can never be replaced — as well as some electronics.