'I knew it was coming down,' St. James man nearly crushed by roof

9:41 AM, Dec 31, 2009   |    comments
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ST. JAMES, Minn. -- The "Happy Holiday" sign hanging over the street in front of Overson Lumber Company foretold a peaceful time of year.

What happened in back last Sunday was anything but.

"We kept hearing noises, I think that was kind of the beginning of the end," says Overson's manager, Vaughn Nordhausen. He knew there was trouble when drifts were discovered from the Christmas snowstorm five to six feet deep on top of a large lumber storage shed.

Yard foreman Trent Overson was on a platform with another worker using roof rakes to pull down snow, when they heard popping noises. Nordhausen went inside the shed to investigate.

"I was probably about right here by that molding rack," he says pointing to a spot about 30 feet inside the shed, "when I looked over halfway down and noticed two more had snapped."

Broken trusses, that's what Nordhausen had spotted -- the support structure holding up the roof. "It started to rumble at that point I knew it was coming down."

Nordhausen has never been know around the lumberyard as a sprinter, but as the building caved in, "I could have beat, what's his name? (Usain) Bolt, the Olympian."

Overson heard the rest from his platform. "It just sounded like a lot of snap, crackle and pop. And then all of a sudden you heard a big woosh."

Nordhausen just cleared the door as the roof collapsed with enough updraft to lift his heavy winter coat. "It took this jacket and lifted it up to the neck."

Overson and the other worker felt the weight of an exterior wall on their backs as they lowered the platform to the ground. Overson's back is sore, but no one was seriously hurt.

Nordhausen says the lost contents of the lumber shed alone will run "into the six figures." He estimates the building itself is worth a similar amount. Both are insured.

Nordhausen likes to think of himself as a religious person. "I was before and I probably will be more now," he said without a hint of laughter.

Nordhausen is thanking heaven, while cleaning up one heck of a mess.

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(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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