Excess stormwater causes partial collapse of Winchester building

Published 2:59 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

A 10-square-foot block of concrete collapsed inside a Winchester business early Friday afternoon.

The collapse left the building condemned, a section of East Broadway St. closed for several hours, and three tenants from the building’s upstairs apartments displaced.

The Town Branch drainage system runs underneath the building, which is occupied by Cartwright Designs. Fire officials at the scene said that excess storm water from Thursday night’s flash flooding eroded some of the building’s foundation, causing the partial collapse in the workshop area.

“Where all the water was rushing through last night it was like a huge pressure washer,” said West Cartwright, the design shop’s owner, during a phone conversation with the Sun on Friday.

Cartwright said that one of his tenants alerted him to the high water around the building late Thursday night.

“About 11 p.m. I went down to my shop and there was above knee-high water going all through Broadway. It looked like a river. I mean just really fast-paced water,” Cartwright said.

The raging water started to bend Cartwright’s garage door back so he was forced to open it, letting in a surge of floodwater into his workshop. He waited until 2 a.m. for the water to recede and once it did Cartwright discovered a hole.

When he returned the next morning the hole had gotten bigger.

“You could hear cracking and crumbling. It was like it was continuing to deteriorate and sag down. So I called the fire department,” Cartwright said.

According to fire officials, the Winchester and Clark County Fire departments responded to the call at 12:15 p.m.

“They used robots today and drones. They did a really great job, today to make sure that everybody was safe.”

A structural engineer from Lexington was called in and soon ruled the building condemned until it is repaired.

The fire department sealed the building off and Winchester Municipal Utilities cut off utility service to it.

Fire officials reported no injuries and that the building was safely evacuated.

One of the displaced tenants is Clark County Deputy Jailer Katherine Nill and her two sons.

According to a Go Fund Me page set up to aid the family, they were not able to get personal belongings out of the building before it was condemned. Nill’s car was also rendered non-operational due to the flash flooding. So far $1,760 has been raised out of a $3,000 goal.

To donate please visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-nill-family-start-over.