(Posted Sept. 4, 2015)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Investigators are trying to determine why a portion of a building on West Main Street in West Jefferson collapsed in the early morning hours of Aug. 30. In the meantime, residents are helping those left homeless by the incident.
Carol Beachy, owner of West Jefferson Hardware, 228 E. Main St., set up a box at her store to collect donations of money, clothing and personal items for residents of the apartment located on the building’s second floor.
“They have nothing,” Beachy said. “Their needs are financial.”
She went on to explain that one of the victims lost her glasses in the collapse.
“She needs her glasses so she can see to drive,” Beachy said. “She needs to get her driver’s license replaced and that takes money. The car keys are buried in the rubble. A locksmith would have to be called and, again, that takes money. And then getting gas for the car.”
Beachy has a list of the victims’ pressing needs, including clothing. One woman needs XXL tops, size 18 pants, and size 8.5 or 9 shoes. The men need medium and large shirts, size 30-32 and size 32-34 pants, and size 10 and 11.5 shoes.
The American Red Cross was among the early responders to the collapse and provided victims with clothing to hold them for a few days and temporary housing. None of the victims was seriously injured.
“Two of them escaped in the rear on the fire escape ladders,” Police Sgt. Brandon Smith said.
The apartments were located above a dentist office and an empty storefront that once housed a carpet business. According to West Jefferson Police Chief Terry Ward, the dentist, Dr. Gerald Weissman, owns the building.
“It’s been permanently fenced in for safety reasons,” Mayor Darlene Steele said Sept. 1 of the disaster scene. “That’s in hopes no one gets in.”
Fencing-in the rubble meant that west-bound traffic had to be rerouted. Traffic was detoured onto Route 142 at the east edge of the village to I-70 to Route 29 to U.S. Route 40. Eastbound traffic was not affected.