MORGANTOWN — A terrible grinding and crunching.
That’s how an employee of the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties described the sound that prompted her to pull the building alarm at Hazel’s House of Hope Sunday evening.
It turns out that sound was most of the building’s roof being lifted off by straight-line wind estimated at 90-100 miles per hour at rooftop level by the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.
Hazel’s House of Hope is a former Ramada Inn turned social services hub located on Scott Avenue.
“If you see the site, it’s really kind of a miracle nobody was injured,” Bartlett Housing Solutions Executive Director Keri DeMasi said.
Between guests in the emergency shelter and tenants living at the facility, Bartlett House had 27 people on site when the damage occurred, around 9 p.m.
“Our staff member made the 911 call. The [Morgantown] fire department and everyone responded within minutes. The clients, staff and tenants were evacuated off the property and then, very early [Monday] morning, we got everybody into hotel rooms,” DeMasi said, explaining the second, third and fourth floors all sustained significant water damage.
“It looks like the roof was peeled back like a can. So that caused water damage and then secondary damage from standing water,” she said.
Both DeMasi and United Way Program Coordinator Tim Berry said the organizations housed in the building are in a holding pattern awaiting news.
“Right now the entire building is condemned, for obvious reasons. No general public can enter. I was there [Monday] morning and took a tour of the damage, and it’s pretty substantial,” Berry said, explaining the United Way Helpful Harvest program housed in the building is on hold indefinitely.
DeMasi said Bartlett Housing Solutions can financially sustain its short-term hotel accommodations for about a week.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to figure out a timeline soon and that will guide what we’re able to do,” she said.
Along with Bartlett Housing Solutions and the United Way, tenants included Catholic Charities of West Virginia, Lauren’s Wish and The Salvation Army. Hope Hill Sobering Center was expected to open in the facility later this year.
A new roof for the building was among the improvements funded through $3.5 million in CARES Act money provided in October 2020.
The facility and the 10-acre property it sits on is owned and operated by Morgantown Community Resources.