The first sign was a crack in the ceiling. Then there was a lot of creaking and lots of popping sounds.
“Krista [Carnegie] and I were watching back in front and it just got worse and worse and worse,” said Jackie Brosseuk. “Then one of the lights inside went ‘poof,’ out of the ceiling and we yelled, ‘Get off the roof!'”
That scene took place in the middle of Wednesday night at the front of the warehouse in the Big Eddy that Jackie and her husband Ray Brosseuk used to sort and store thousands of tonnes of clothes annually before shipping them off to people in developing countries through their non-profit organization Partners for Others.
On Wednesday, a group of volunteers there helping to sort out clothes and other donations noticed a crack in the ceiling. They called Jackie, who came down with some friends to begin shovelling off the roof.
They worked in vain to clear the snow, compacted by recent rain, but the roof was already about to go. Their efforts were hampered by a high-voltage power line stretching near the centre of the roof. They shovelled off the sides of the roof but not the middle due to the wire.
“It sounded like microwave popcorn. It went pop, pop, pop, pop, pop and then snap,” said Jackie. “It continuously popped as things pulled. It was really, really creepy.”
Jackie Brosseuk, Carnegie and the others left the building at around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday. When Brosseuk returned at 7:30 a.m., the roof had caved in, collapsing in on the 100-or-so garbage bags of clothes and other goods inside.
Ray, who was in Vancouver Wednesday when he first heard of the troubles, arrived back in Revelstoke after the collapse.
“Heartbroken,” he said when asked his reaction. “It’s sad to see.”
The Brosseuk’s used their warehouse as a sorting and storage space before sending off containers full of goods to developing countries. Last Sunday they sent a container to Swaziland and the weekend before that they shipped one to Fiji. They have another one scheduled to go to Lesotho in Africa in April.
Despite the damage to the building, they were hopeful the big, steel bailer they used to package the clothes was undamaged and could be pulled out quickly and put back to use in the undamaged back part of the warehouse.
Fortunately, they said their insurance company, Revelstoke Credit Union, was being very supportive so far.
“The insurance company was here and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll look after you, we know what you do,'” said Ray.
Meanwhile, the Brosseuk`s plan on rebuilding as quickly as possible.
“We’re going to take it down quickly, clean all this up down to the cement slab, strip it off and just start to re-build,” said Ray. “Just get it down as fast as we can and get it back up.”