Downed trees line the courtyard of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society and some limbs are still scattered around the interior, but the courtyard itself is otherwise clean – thanks to volunteers and staffers with shovels and rakes working outside.

But Wednesday afternoon, the tornado that twisted its way through Springfield’s South End and decimated nearby buildings sent tree limbs and two-by-fours through the membrane of the humane society’s roof, smashing windows and damaging mechanical systems, said Kevin Perrier, vice president of the society’s board of directors.

In an awe-inspiring example of the strength of the storm, a rooftop heating and air conditioning unit weighing roughly 10,000 pounds was relocated more than three feet off its base from the sheer force of the wind.

When Perrier heard of the damage to the building, he mobilized two dozen workers he employs as president of Five Star Building Corp. commercial construction company to stabilize the structure. Many worked from 7 at night Wednesday and didn’t wrap up until 1 the following morning.

“That was the largest emergency repair operation at the time in downtown Springfield that I could see,” Perrier told Banker & Tradesman.

Structurally Sound

When all was said and done, Perrier’s crew likely did more than $10,000 in emergency work, he said. Although he could not disclose the organization’s deductible, he said those expenses would likely not be borne by the Humane Society.

The building is now structurally sound, which is much more than can be said of so many of the homes and apartment buildings in this residential enclave behind Main Street in Springfield’s South End. Many had entire exterior walls torn off, exposing former homes.

But the Humane Society building’s mechanical systems will need to be repaired, and there was no climate control in the building as of press time – which is seriously stressing the facility’s resident animals.

Valerie Dahl, director of finance and human resources for the society, said it is too early to assess the damage, but added, “There is debris up there on the roof that’s not part of our building.”

While it is still “very early” to make damage estimates, Perrier guessed repairs could cost upwards of $300,000 depending if the roof needs to be replaced. That alone could run close to $100,000, he said.

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced,” Perrier told Banker & Tradesman. “Standing on the roof of the animal shelter, you look around and most other buildings have such extensive damage they’ll likely need to be torn down. But even just a couple blocks away, you wouldn’t even know it happened.”

The dogs, cats, turtles and other residents at the animal shelter are alive and well, albeit stressed, said Candy Lash, spokesperson for the society.

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