Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Michael Smith stands on top of the Whalen Building Thursday afternoon. The damaged turret, which was to the left of the photo, has been removed.
The city is still tallying the cost of a lightning strike on the Whalen Building.
The building was struck Wednesday afternoon, destroying a terra cotta turret on top of the century-old landmark’s northwest corner. Debris fell from the building, damaging cars and smashing windshields near St. Paul Street below.
City facilities and fleet manager Michael Smith said while everything has been cleaned up, the cost of the damage won’t be known until a full assessment is done.
“We have had a structural engineer on site. The building is safe,” Smith said Thursday. “At this point in time everything from a risk management perspective is safe.
“It’s sort of a freak accident and we’re thankful that nobody got hurt.”
Renovations on the building are ongoing. Smith said he’s confident the turret can be replaced and that insurance should be able to cover a large part of the unknown additional costs. An engineering firm will be on site Monday to start a full assessment. As for the damage to vehicles, Smith said the city could be liable.
“Certainly things falling from the building, one could make the case that that is (covered) so we’re looking through that and we’ll see where that goes,” he said.
The city will also be looking into whether or not the building should have equipment in place on the building like lightning rods. It’s the first time a city-owned building has ever been struck.