Heavy snow causing roofs to collapse

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press John Jorasz stands next to one of the buildings that collapsed at his farm due to the weight of the snow. The building was a free stall barn at the Jorasz Farm and 64 cows were trapped when the roof collapsed. It took two to three hours to get the cows out and 27 didn’t make it.

HARRIS TOWNSHIP — Heavy snow this winter has created a huge problem for roofs trying to support the extra weight. A local farm has lost buildings and cows because the buildings couldn’t support the weight of the snow on them.

John Jorasz, one of the two owners of the Jorasz Farm in Harris Township, said they’ve been shoveling since Feb. 16, seven days a week, four hours a day.

Out of 27 buildings on the farm, three have collapsed due to the weight of snow and two of those three buildings had cattle inside.

“We try to keep up. We try to do the worst one first, but it’s hard to tell,” said Jorasz, noting from looking up at roofs it is hard to determine just how deep and heavy the snow actually is.

The most recent collapse was the worst one because it was a free stall barn and 64 cows were trapped. Jorasz said it took about two to three hours to get the cows out, and 27 cows didn’t make it.

Thankfully for the farm, around 40 people showed up to help. Jorasz said two local men, Cody Kleiman and Brad Hall, both brought log trucks to assist in the efforts.

“People were here within a half hour to hour,” said Jorasz about the response of everyone who showed up and helped.

The worst cave-in occurred at the main farm, but the two other buildings that collapsed were located at different properties for the farm.

The first building that caved-in was across the highway from the main farm. Jorasz said some hay was lost and pieces of equipment were damaged.

The second building, located in Schaffer, was the second to go down. Jorasz said there were four cattle that didn’t make it.

“Normally the weather gets warm and the snow slides off,” said Jorasz. He explained all buildings that went down had metal roofs, but there wasn’t enough warmth to have the snow slide off on its own.

He said they haven’t had to shovel snow off roofs since the early ’80s.

“If there is 18 inches or more on the roof, you better get it off,” he said. He also noted people should use metal shovels because the rain has made the snow so heavy plastic shovels break.

Despite the hardships the farm has faced so far this winter, Jorasz was more concerned about getting the word out for people to check on the elderly and people unable to shovel their own roofs.

He said people need to shovel off their roofs or more collapses will occur.

“Especially the elderly — they know and can’t shovel or don’t know they have a problem. Their family should check up on them,” he said.

When it comes to shoveling, Jorasz said the best practice is to shovel all along the edge of each side of the roof to get pressure off and then work your way up. He said the mistake people seem to make is starting at the top.

When buildings start to go down, Jorasz described it as a domino effect until the whole thing is down to the other side.

“It is easier to shovel than clean up the mess and pick up the pieces,” he said.

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