A portion of a building roof at Mid-Atlantic Christian University collapsed Saturday while workers were replacing roofing tiles, Elizabeth City’s fire chief said.
Heritage Hall, which houses the student cafeteria, will be closed for the foreseeable future, according to MACU officials. There were no injuries in the collapse and all students, staff and faculty are accounted for, according to a MACU news release.
Elizabeth City Fire Chief Chris Carver said at the scene that roofers were replacing roofing tiles when a portion of the roof collapsed around 11:15 a.m. None of the workers were hurt and the portion of the building was unoccupied at the time.
The building, known as Heritage Hall, was built in the 1960s in three phases and houses the campus cafeteria, classrooms, counseling center and some faculty offices.
MACU President John Maurice, who also was at the scene of the roof collapse Saturday, said that despite the substantial property damage he was relieved no one was injured.
“In the grand scheme of things this is a good day,” he said. Maurice said MACU staff had noticed leaks in the building and had scheduled the roof repair work as part of the campus’s ongoing maintenance plan.
Insurance company representatives and a structural engineer are expected to visit the MACU campus next week to determine if and when any of the building can be repaired, he said.
Maurice said it appears to him that a central section of the building might be a total loss but that the ends of the building might be salvageable. He stressed, however, that those determinations will be made by the insurance company in consultation with experts.
Until the assessment is completed there is no timetable for getting the building back up and running, he said.
“We can’t get in the building at all,” Maurice said, noting the food stored in the cafeteria is lost.
Maurice and other MACU administrators were meeting Saturday afternoon to develop a plan for meeting student needs on Monday, including classes and meals.
“We’re still working on that,” Maurice said.
Maurice said MACU officials had already spoken to College of The Albemarle President Jack Bagwell, who had agreed to let MACU use available space at COA.
“He offered to work with us any way that we need,” Maurice said.
Longer-term plans will be developed once the immediate plan is in place, he said.
Also assisting Elizabeth City police, EMS and fire personnel were search teams from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach fire departments.
MACU has canceled classes for Monday but classes will resume as normal on Tuesday, the school announced. Student meals will be provided at the Mustang Concession area, beginning with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and followed by lunch at 11:30 a.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m.
“We know this is an unwanted and unexpected change for students, staff and faculty and will work to make a smooth transition into a long-term plan as more information becomes available,” the MACU news release states. “The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our first concern.”