On Saturday, May 26, 1917, a terrific hail storm swept over Bloomington. Shortly after 6 PM, a mass of low hanging clouds rolled up from the west and let loose with hail stones the like of which had never been seen in the area. They ranged in size all the way from a marble to a baseball.
After the storm subsided, several employees of the Showers Bros. gathered at the factory to assess the damage and found that nearly 75 percent of the skylights had been broken from the saw tooth roof. The floors were strewn with glass, and there was much danger from more glass fragments falling from the skylights.
Workers rushed to clean up water from the top floors before it could drip through on the cases stacked in the ware room below. This work was all very successful and would have reduced the loss to a minimum but for the fact that another rain storm arose about 9 PM. The water swept in torrents through the holes in the roof. It flooded the packing room in Plant One.
Early Sunday morning, under the supervision of W. Edward Shower and Charles A. Sears, the work of reconstruction was started with the help of a large force of dependable employees. Mr. Showers worked on the roof right along with the others like a regular fellow. His presence there was an incentive to all who aided in the reconstruction work. Broken windows were covered using waterproof paper, all the waterproof paper that could be found in town.
Repairs were started immediately in the machine and veneer rooms and on the damaged cases. A large force of men was employed in inspecting and repairing the damaged stock. A damage estimate was reported at roughly $30,000.
Management was gratified to note the loyal way in which the men set out early Sunday morning to push the work of covering the roof and especially those who remained until midnight on Saturday. In the course of a week or ten days, nearly all traces of the deluge were erased and operations resumed on a normal schedule. Executives of the Showers Bros. heartily thanked all of those who rendered such valuable assistance in the time of need.
Source: Showers Bros. Shop Notes, June 2, 1917.
Blog Post by Randi Richardson.