EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Less than a week after a partial roof collapse, employees at Kmart are cleaning up and preparing to welcome customers back inside.
The signs outside the store Monday night read closed until further notice. But after hours of hard work,Harvey Reckard, the manager at the Eau Claire Kmart says the store will open its doors to customers Tuesday at 8 AM.
“I normally work the evening shifts and I was just going about doing my business and just going about what we are supposed to be doing,” Kmart employee Inez Dascher said.
After 24 years of working at Kmart, Dascher thought she had seen it all. Until last Thursday night
“All of the sudden it sounded like a bomb went off. The whole building shook and we screamed,” Dascher explained. “We looked above and I saw the ceiling lights in a domino effect just falling down on that end of the store.”
Dascher described what she said were a panicked couple of seconds as she witnessed part of the building near the toy and garden section collapse.
“I thought the whole ceiling was going to come toward us and then as soon as the noise stopped, the whole building filled with white dust. I believe it was the gas,” Dascher said.
Dascher and the rest of employees along with customers in the store were quickly moved from the building to a safe location Thursday night as crews worked to shut off gas lines following the partial roof collapse.
After the scene was cleared Thursday, the next step came in deciding what to do to cleanup and repair the collapsed section of the roof.
“We had to put in industrial strength standards so they have shored up the roof so everything is secure for anyone to come in,” Manager Harvey Reckard said.
Reckard says crews worked to put up support beams and a wall around the collapsed area of the building. Workers were able to come in the building during the weekend to start cleaning up floors and locating damaged merchandise.
“We are looking at every piece of product that we have and pulling any damaged product off the floor and that will be sent away,” Reckard explained.
Reckard says crews will be removing fans from around the store and finish putting everything back into place before the reopening Tuesday. As for the collapsed area of the building, he says they are still working on figuring out demolition plans. He expects demolition to begin sometime next week.