|Throughout New England, a number of homeowners and businesses have reported roof damage and other problems since harsh snowstorms struck the region in late January. Now, the heavy precipitation appears to have collapsed the roof of a shopping plaza in Holden, MA. However, an investigation into the cause of the damage is ongoing.Firefighters were called to the scene on Monday, March 9 at around 1:15 after workers clearing snow with snowblowers realized the roof was giving way. Customers were quickly evacuated from all of the plaza’s stores, which include a Big Y supermarket, a Dollar Tree and a CVS Pharmacy. The building was completely emptied by the time the firefighters arrived and no one was injured, although employees and customers reported hearing a loud boom immediately before the evacuation.
Currently, the Dollar Store is the only store that has suffered damage, as firefighters reported that the ceiling had dropped over four feet by 3 p.m. and was resting on shelves in some areas. While it shares a building with the Big Y, the supermarket is separated by a structural brick wall, which likely helped preserve the structure.
Meanwhile, the cause of the collapse is being debated: the Holden Building Commissioner, Dennis J. Lipka, has stated that he suspects the problem was caused by an improperly placed heating unit, but others still suspect the incident was caused by the weight of the snow. All of the building’s utilities were shut off, and the owners are reportedly waiting for structural engineers to assess the damage.
In light of the recent weather, the engineers may recommend that the owners install elastomeric coatings, which extend the life of any roof by 10 years or more by inhibiting rust, sealing leaks, and saving energy.
Overall, the plaza seems to be recovering, as the Big Y reopened at 11 a.m. Tuesday. However, other stores lagged behind, and the Dollar Store remains closed. Lipka commented that the stores’ biggest problem at this point isn’t the snow, but the water that could form when it melts.
While the roof damage is in keeping with the harsh weather the region has endured over the course of the past month, this wasn’t the first time the shopping plaza had to be evacuated: in October, one of the stores also reported a gas leak.