(08/28/13) - Community leaders are in disbelief after a part of a popular
business collapsed overnight.
It happened during heavy thunderstorms, at Do It Best Gilbert's Hardware on Main Street in Owosso.
The part of the building that collapsed was the warehouse. A lot of paint and appliances were stored in that area.
"This is one of our main businesses in downtown Owosso and even though this is a small part of the building, it's devastating," said city council member Burton Fox.
An employee tells us the business has been opened for more than 60 years.
The building is a staple in the community.
"The Gilbert family is just very active in our community and I'm very sorry to see it happen," said Jim Denis, who lives in the area.
A building inspector says heavy thunderstorms are to blame for the collapse. We were told that the owners were out there Tuesday night, helping to pump water.
We spoke with one of the employees who has been working there since 1979. He says the owners are known for doing a lot of community service.
"Wow, this is devastating. Devastating. Lucky it was just our warehouse and it was our storage, nothing in there but paint. Wow, this is amazing," said employee Jeff Cunningham.
We also talked with a person who lives just feet away from where the building collapsed. He heard a loud boom.
"There was, felt like rumbling, that's about it. I was just shocked, I was half asleep, wake up half the building fell apart outside, I was like 'whoa.' I came outside to see what was going on, the fire department evacuated us," said Rick Brown.
The owner isn't letting this discourage him.
"The drain was not big enough to withstand. Some people have told me 4 1/2 inches of rain, the rain couldn't go anywhere and it just backed up," said store owner K.C. Gilbert. "I think of the mess and the hard work that's going to go into putting it back because we have to have it, it's part of our business and the storage of paint that we have to have.
Employees plan to sort through the debris. They hope to keep some of their belongings.
"We'll just go in and start picking through and see what we can salvage out of it," Gilbert said. "There will be some salvaged out of it, but not a lot I don't think."
No one was injured in the collapse.
The rest of the storefront is still standing, which means the business can still operate. Gilbert says he is looking forward to rebuilding
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