Church denies auditorium improvements impacted collapse

Church denies auditorium improvements impacted collapse

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The leader of Hawaii's largest church says his congregation paid for numerous construction add-ons at the auditorium that collapsed during Friday's storm. But the pastor says those improvements didn't cause the roof to cave in.

The Department of Education says a preliminary cause of the collapse may be known within a few days and at this point there is no indication the church did anything wrong.

The roof collapse not only displaced classes and activities for Farrington High students, it also impacted church services for New Hope Christian Fellowship which spends more than $400,000 a year renting the Auditorium. It has held services at the school for 18 years.

Some have questioned if the church had any impact on the accident. The church says ten years ago it did work on the roof. It didn't replace it, but it patched some leaks.

"We didn't want it to continue leaking so we had permission to go hire a roofing company that went up and assessed it and with permission patched it," said Wayne Cordeiro, New Hope Christian Fellowship Founding Pastor.

The church also added an air cooling unit, but it wasn't on the roof.

"The air, it's an augmentation system, the chillers are on another section. Nothing is on that roof over and above it because nothing is allowed to be on that area," said Cordeiro.

The only weight added to the ceiling is an aluminum truss Cordeiro says weighed about 200 pounds which fell in the collapse. Speakers were also added which are still hanging.

Pastor Cordeiro says any work done had to be approved by the state and says the church had no impact on the collapse.

Cordeiro has his own theories as to why someone would blame the church.

"People always look for someone to pin the blame on so we can say that's it and have something for lunch time conversation," said Cordeiro. "The human tendency to say are you to blame or maybe he's to blame, because we love to do that somehow. We understand that's humanity and human tendency, but we're going to keep doing our best to help that school."

The school administration says the roof is sloped designed to let water runoff the side. There are no gutters or drains that could get sealed or clogged.

Engineers are still gathering information inside. The belief is there may have been multiple causes leading to the collapse. At this point nothing has been ruled out.

"When we bring the investigation team on I think they are looking at every angle whether it be improvements they made or improvements we made or cooling unit or anything," said Al Carganilla, Farrington High School Principal. "I think they are not going to rule anything out. I think they want to make sure they sift through everything and look through all the possible scenarios and it's early to tell but I'm sure they'll look at every angle to see what caused it."

There's hope insurance money could cover some of the costs. The auditorium was covered by a DTRIC Insurance policy. Administrators are trying to find out what it covers and how much. A DTRIC Insurance agent visited the site today as well.

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