Clarksville building torn apart by high wind

Witness: Roof 'flipped right over the top of the building'

Clarksville, wind damage
Wind damage on Main Street in Clarksville. (March 8, 2017)

CLARKSVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — High winds Wednesday afternoon sheared the roof from a building in the Ionia County village of Clarksville and tore down part of its walls.

The building is in the 100 block of Main Street, south of Cross Street. Wednesday afternoon, the roof was lying in the road in front of the building and it was surrounded by debris from falling walls. A large front window was shattered.

“We were stepping outside when we heard the initial boom of it,” Alan Jackson, who owns a nearby repair shop, told 24 Hour News 8. “It had blown the front window out of the building. I knew that the people that were renovating it were working so I come down to see if there was anybody inside, and that’s when I seen the back wall was gone.”

Jackson said that after firefighters arrived, “half of the roof section lifted off and come over the top.”

“It flipped right over the top of the building,” he continued. “About 10 minutes later, the second half of the roof come off. And now since then, it’s just been pieces falling here and there.”

No one was hurt.

Clarksville Fire Department Chief Dan Cronk told 24 Hour News 8 that the top portion of the building may still collapse. Crews from the fire department were set to remain on the scene overnight to keep an eye on things.

Clean-up crews will arrive Thursday morning to begin tearing down the rest of the building. The process is expected to take days.

“Don’t come through Clarksville tonight or any day in the next few days because they’re going to have to tear this whole building down,” Cronk said.

The damage comes as a blow to Janette Rash, who along with her boyfriend was renovating the ground floor to turn it into the Red Tomato restaurant.

“I wanted to throw up,” she described how she felt when she first saw the damage. “I really literally wanted to throw up.”

“We’ve just been working real hard to get everything set up and ready. We were planning on opening in about 30 days and we put a lot of our time and effort hearts and souls into getting it ready,” she added. “We left here at 10 o’clock last night with being very proud and happy of where we were with it, so it’s really disappointing.”

The building was the site of the old Nash Opera House, which was built in the late 1800s. Since that time, it has housed several community businesses, including the public library until two weeks ago.