March 13 2014 12:00 AM

Volunteers of America warehouse roof buckles after prolonged winter weather, costing more than $100,000 in damage and goods lost

A partial roof collapse at Volunteer of America\'s Mason warehouse Wednesday caused more than $100,000 in damage and lost goods. Courtesy photo.

Thursday, March 13 — Workers at the Volunteers of America warehouse in Mason were startled Wednesday afternoon by the sounds of the roof buckling above them. 

Layers of compacted ice and snow — the result of this winter’s intensity — finally bellied the warehouse’s roof, causing more than $100,000 in damage to the building and goods within, a Volunteers of America spokesman said.

Between Tuesday’s showers and winter’s resurgence Wednesday morning, the weather was just too much for the building to endure, said Darin Estep, VOA’s director of community engagement.

Located at 4200 Legion Drive in Mason, the warehouse is used to store various items collected by Volunteers of America. The goods are then distributed to thrift shops across mid-Michigan. Now, under the crushing weight of the warehouse’s damaged roof, Estep said the collapse could end up costing the volunteer organization more than $100,000 in repairs and goods lost.

While no one was injured in the incident, volunteers reportedly smelled natural gas shortly afterwards, leading to gas and electricity being shut down. Construction crews were on site this morning to inspect the damage and attempt to return power to the warehouse. A timeframe on repairs is not yet known, Estep said.

“We’re unsure about a timeline for repairs and we’ll be relocating for a significant period of time,” Estep said.

The accident comes at a particularly inconvenient time for the organization, as donated goods ready for store shelves in the coming weeks now reside under layers of rubble and ice. While the organization remains optimistic, many storage bins filled with goods will take weeks to recover, if at all.

During the coming weeks, volunteers will move merchandize to a nearby storage facility provided by Capital Steel & Wire Inc.

Meanwhile, crews are hoping to remove as much snow as possible in the next few days, as the weekend’s warmer weather could cause additional water damage to the building’s interior.

The season of snowstorms and frigid temperatures has been taxing on Michigan residents, particularly those in need, said Patrick Patterson, VOA’s executive vice president.

“This has been an especially hard winter on everyone, particularly the needy. This incident is no exception. Profits from the sale of these goods donated here in Michigan go to help people here in Michigan. The Thrift Stores also are an important resource for affordable, high-quality clothing and household goods,” Patterson said in a statement.

Volunteers of America runs two thrift stores in Lansing as well as others in Burton and Corunna. Anyone looking to donate new or gently used goods can stop by the organization’s East Lansing donation center, 248 E. Saginaw St.