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Heavy Snow Causing Roofs To Collapse Across Tri-State Area

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Heavy, wet snow is putting a serious strain on buildings and other structures around the region.

Since Thursday’s storm that dumped nearly a foot or more of snow in some spots, there have been several reports of roof cave-ins and partial building collapses throughout the Tri-State area.

As CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider reported, all that precipitation that’s piled up is starting to come crashing down. That bad news for home and business owners has turned into a boon for roofers.

“We’re busy. We’re getting calls all the time,” Lester Waxman of Classic Remodeling Corp. said. “When the roof is filled up with snow like this and the gutters become frozen, water can’t come down the roof anymore. So it gets backed up. The water’s backing up into the rooms of the houses and causing problems.”

As WCBS 880′s Levon Putney reported, the ShopRite on River Road in New Milford, N.J. is closed until further notice due to a partial ceiling collapse.

The parking lot entrance was barricaded Friday afternoon and police tape was on the front door of the grocery store.

“We’re concerned about the structural integrity of that part of ShopRite. So we’ve asked that they have a structural engineer examine it to ensure the safety of the structure,” New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro told Putney. “If there is a structural issue, you can’t have customers in the store when the rest of it gives out.”

Firefighters checked ceiling cracks inside the store that they suspect were caused by the weight of the snow on the roof.

“The ceiling tile grid was collapsed,” said Papapietro.

The store will remain closed until engineers determine it’s structurally sound.

In Rockland County, police said the roof of a detached garage came down just before 7 a.m. Friday at a building on N. Grants Avenue in Congers. No injuries were reported.

Then about 30 minutes later, police were called to a partial building collapse at a business on Route 9W in Congers. No one was injured.

A Clarkstown building inspector was expected to respond to both collapses.

Thursday night, the roof collapsed at the West Rock Indoor Sports and Entertainment Complex in Nanuet. Two workers inside escaped before the roof came down around 9:20 p.m.

Authorities said that the collapsed roof struck and ignited a gas main.

Volunteer firefighters from Nanuet and West Nyack battled heavy, freezing rain and icy conditions before putting out the flames around 9:50 p.m.

Rockland County Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren said the snow and ice could cause more structure failures.

“We ask anyone that has a flat roof, and particularly commercial but also a car port or shed or an addition with a flat roof, to look for signs, cracks, funny noises,” he told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams.

A roof also came down at the Cascata Restaurant in Yonkers. No injuries were reported.

As CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan reported from Merrick, Long Island, professionals were called in to help remove heavy snow from the rooftops of warehouses and homes.

Brookhaven Highways Superintendent Dan Losquadro used a snow rake to clear his roof.

But one of the town’s massive salt sheds could not bear the weight and collapsed. Losquadro said it was a close call, but no one was hurt in the incident.

“He actually started to hear the wood trusses in the roof start to give way and, thankfully, he was able to get that truck in gear and get it out of the facility and the roof literally came down behind him,” said Losquadro.

Multiple warehouse roofs caved in Friday, including one in Farmingdale, McLogan reported.

“You can have up to 1,000 or 2,000 pounds in a 10 by 10 area,” David Schneider with Merrick Snow Removal told McLogan. “It won’t take much, more than 4 or 5 or 6 inches. Don’t forget, water weighs 7 pounds a gallon.”

The professional roof clearers charge $65 and up per hour. Big jobs can take as much as a day.

“Homeowners need to keep the gutters clean. They need to keep the drains clean and they need to keep passageways for the water to drain away from the property,” Schneider said.

Many homeowner liability policies do not cover someone doing work for the owner, so it may be better to hire a professional with insurance, McLogan reported.

Ice also makes roof work very dangerous, McLogan noted.

Smaller jobs are do-it-yourself. A $30 snow rake and other ice-fighting gear can help you clear off your roof without climbing.

In New Jersey, the snow led to the cave-in of the roof of an apartment building in Kearny. It happened around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I heard it, sounded like an earthquake,” said neighbor Michael Andron.

“I guess the weight of the snow just hit the old building out,” building owner Mauro Greco said.

All residents were evacuated and no one was hurt. A construction crew was called in to assess the safety of the building.

The collapse left four families displaced, Schneider reported.

In Jersey City, a Verizon facility where workers keep their vehicles partially collapsed around noon Thursday.

Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski said three workers were at the facility at the time of the collapse but no one was hurt. Engineers were working to determine whether the rest of the building is safe for employees.

In South Hackensack, part of a custom woodworking shop was turned into a pile of debris.

In Clifton, Angel Cancel’s four-car garage was destroyed when the roof crashed to the ground under the weight of heavy snow, Schneider reported.

An athletic super dome in Waldwick, where children normally compete in sports, also caved-in.

Shoppers inside a Kohl’s headed for the doors after part of the ceiling caved-in.

Alex Stevenovic’s mom was inside the store at the time. “”She described it like an earthquake,” Stevenovic said. “She dropped all of her stuff and left the store.”

Similar incidents happened in New York City.

In South Richmond, Queens, the top of a garage crumbled and on Staten Island, a chimney came crashing down.

The New York City Department of Buildings says property owners can help prevent a collapse by safely removing ice and snow from roofs, overhangs and awnings.

To secure a building, it says property owners should:

  • Clear ice and snow from areas around the sites that are used by the public.
  • Safely remove ice and snow from flat roofs, gutters, and overhangs.
  • Clean out gutters and roof drains to allow water to drain.

Warnings signs that your roof is about to go include a cracking or popping sound or if it looks like it’s sagging from the inside.

The Buildings Department also says icicles can pose a threat to the public if not promptly removed.

Officials say property owners are obligated to remove ice that may come loose during warm weather.

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