Heavy rain and high winds are having a big impact on one of Cape Breton's top tourist treasures.

The Thanksgiving storm that dropped more than 220 millimetres of rain on the island combined with Saturday night's weather caused the roof of the miners' museum to leak badly, resulting in more structural damage.

“It's terrifying,” said museum manager Mary Pat Mombourquette. “At some point in time the whole ceiling is going to collapse and then what's going to happen to the rest of the museum. Right now we've contained it to the upstairs, but that's not going to hold for much longer.”

The museum, which offers tours of an underground mine led by retired miners, welcomed more than 14,000 visitors this summer.

“People come from all over the world through this museum,” said mine guide Sheldon Guthro. “I've had them from everywhere, Germany, Australia, France, everywhere. They love the place.”

Guthro says heritage and artifacts could be lost if something isn't done to fix the building soon. The water is coming in through the building's distinctive tower, which is directly above office space, but is gradually starting to make its way to the main floor.

“It's starting at the top and working down,” said Guthro. “The next thing you know we're going to lose the exhibits in there. There's a lot of information in there and we don't want to lose that.” 

The municipality along with both the federal and provincial governments have agreed to cost share the repairs estimated at $1.5 million, but with each passing storm the damage worsens.

Officials say they can't wait much longer.

“If that damage keeps escalating I would imaging the price will escalate as well,” said Mombourquette.

A price that is hard to put on sustaining a museum that is part of Cape Breton's rich coal mining history.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.