(Crenshaw, MS) Just days after part of a building fell on him, the assistant fire chief in Crenshaw, Miss., is still in critical condition.
People in the Delta town are now worried more problems and accidents could be on the way because some buildings along Highway 3 are crumbling.
When the sign says the Crenshaw Thrift Store is "now open," it means it really is "now open."
That's because a powerful storm in May caused part of the roof and wall to collapse and crash down on most of Gary Styers inventory,
"We were up front and started hearing pop, and crack. And the next thing, we come back and water was flooding this whole building. It was about like the Mississippi River coming through here."
Styers figures storm water caused support beams to give way.
And there's another reason he thinks buildings along Highway 3 are in fragile condition: ground-shaking freight trains rumbling through the town day and night.
"You can see chips of wood falling off the roof. This whole building. A lot of times the floor shakes.and I'm sure all of them down the street do."
Nearly half the store fronts are either full of debris or just empty lots.
Mayor Oscar Barlow says the town is showing its age.
"Oh gosh. Crenshaw's over a hundred years old."
What once was the center of this town's economy has aged almost beyond repair.
How to revive it was a question long before the roof on an adult day care center collapsed July 22nd.
As with everything, the Mayor says, the stumbling block is money,
"Even if it's a grant that the town has to get and loan the money with a low, low-interest rate or no interest rate at all to the business owners. Just to them secure and safe."
That brings us back to Gary Styers. He has no insurance and is losing customers, thanks to a crumbling wall,
"When they see they building's fell they say, 'We ain't coming in there.' And I won't tell them to come in cause somebody could get hurt."
Mayor Barlow says business owners are responsible for insurance on their property.
He encourages them check the condition of the their property and keep their safety and their customer's safety first and foremost.
From Mayor Oscar Barlow: "A fund has been set up at any First Security Bank for Asst. Fire Chief Hubert Joyner. All donations are greatly appreciated."