Roof collapses at Christian Reformed Conference Grounds

GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – The roof of a facility at Christian Reformed Conference Grounds in Grand Haven collapsed over the weekend due to heavy snow.

The roof of the Christian Reformed Conference Center in Grand Haven collapsed due to snow. (Feb. 17, 2014)The roof of the Christian Reformed Conference Center in Grand Haven collapsed due to snow. (Feb. 17, 2014)

Monday, Christian Reform Conference Grounds Worship Director and longtime camper Dawn Bauman peered into an opening of the crushed building on the campus.

“Piano’s right there,” she pointed out.

The piano was still intact. Other family items stored in the building didn’t fare so well.

“I can’t wrap my arms around this at all,” Bauman said. “My trailer’s right around inside that door. That’s just a whole other thing.”

The roof of the summer worship hall and winter storage building at the conference center — located at 12253 Lakeshore Dr. in Grand Haven Township — collapsed Sunday afternoon.

No one saw it come down, and no one saw it coming.

The force of the collapse bent the cinder block walls. Under caved-in buildings were totally or partially crushed travel trailers, a motor home and supplies for the camp.

The roof of the Christian Reformed Conference Center in Grand Haven collapsed due to snow. (Feb. 17, 2014)The roof of the Christian Reformed Conference Center in Grand Haven collapsed due to snow. (Feb. 17, 2014)

It was an unlikely collapse. The roof of the hall was rounded, not flat like the roofs at several other West Michigan buildings that have collapsed in recent weeks.

“It’s been one of those special winters where, usually, with this rounded roof the snow slides off,” Christian Reform Conference Center Executive Director Mike Perton said. “People will say, ‘Oh, you should have shoveled.’ But are you going to try and shovel a 75-by-200-plus-foot roof and it’s slanted like that?”

Experts says if you are concerned with your roof’s integrity under the snow, you can check in the attic for signs of sagging trusses or roof boards.

A collapse is one extreme example of roof problems caused by all of this snow. Many home owners are dealing with ice dams — buildups of snow and ice on the edge of roofs that often causing leaking through ceilings and walls as they begin to thaw.

That’s one headache brought on by Old Man Winter. A collapse is quite another.

“I know that God has a plan for this. But it’s just really hard to see it like this,” Bauman said.

This isn’t the only disaster to occur at the organization this month. A fire damaged the beach bathhouse and laundry facility. No one was injured. The cause of the fire is unknown.

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