UPDATE: Snow on rooftops prompts evacuation of 2 Missouri buildings

Friday, February 4, 2011 | 4:20 p.m. CST; updated 4:44 p.m. CST, Friday, February 4, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri officials evacuated two state Health Department buildings Friday because of snow that had accumulated on the roofs.

State Administration Office Commissioner Kelvin Simmons said he decided to evacuate the buildings early Friday after an engineering analysis. Simmons said some people were in the buildings at the time, but he did not know how many. The Office of Administration said 570 people are assigned to work in the two buildings.

Simmons said workers in both buildings were sent home Friday, and snow was being removed from the buildings' roofs. Another engineering analysis was to be conducted, and officials said they hoped workers could return to their offices Monday.

A winter storm moved through Missouri earlier this week, dumping about 18 inches of snow in Jefferson City and largely shutting down the city during the worst of the storm. State lawmakers wrapped up their work early, but many were unable to return home because of treacherous travel conditions.

The two health department buildings affected Friday are leased by the state government for the Department of Health and Senior Services. Officials said the buildings include the agency's community and public health division, which deals with issues such as chronic and communicable diseases and the bureau of vital records. The department's budget and computer technology staff also work in the buildings.

Simmons said it is important to be certain the roofs are structurally sound given how much snow has fallen this past week.

"You want to make sure that the ability for a roof to collapse is not there when you are dealing with your employees," Simmons said.

A 2006 winter storm prompted the closure in Jefferson City of three buildings housing state employees after more than a foot of snow fell. The buildings were cleared out after workers reported the roofs appeared to be sagging. City engineers later determined the facilities were safe.

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