The Tomochichi Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Savannah, Georgia experienced an upper-floor collapse on Tuesday while undergoing a significant renovation. According to Savannah Fire Battalion Chief Wayne Ifill, three construction workers were hurt and sent to a hospital, but their wounds were not life-threatening. Ifill said that no one else within the building was hurt.
The courthouse, which opened in 1899, has been undergoing renovations for more than a year in a $75 million project. Ifill claimed that the interior of the structure had essentially been destroyed, although it is unknown what caused about 30 square feet of the floor to fall. There were no courthouse employees present at the time.
Before anyone is allowed to re-enter, the building will need to be evaluated by a structural expert, Ifill said. More than a century after it first opened, the courthouse, which is situated on Wright Square in Savannah’s downtown historic district, was given the name of the Yamacraw people’s leader.
Workers on the courthouse’s outside watched as contractors checked the structure to make sure it was sound. Even though Ifill claimed there was no danger of the outer walls falling, the roadway closest to the area where the collapse occurred is still closed while engineers determine if the rest of the structure is secure. Ifill stated that it is unknown when that inspection will take place.
Despite the injuries, Ifill expressed gratitude that the collapse “could have been a lot worse.”