Officials Warn Public About Roof Collapses as Snow Continues to Build Up in New England


As New England continues to be battered by historic snow and blistering cold, public officials are warning the public to find a safe way to clear snow off their roofs.

Steven Boucouvalas, the emergency management director in Saco, ME, said that rooftop snow and ice removal “is extremely critical and can’t be over-emphasized,” in a media release last week, and officials in Massachusetts are urging similar measures after two roof collapses on Monday.

Parts of Massachusetts have received as much as 80 inches of snow in the past few weeks alone, and very little of it has melted. As a result, the roofs of two commercial buildings (one in Rockland and one in Quincy) collapsed under the weight of the snow. A Weymouth family was evacuated from their home when their roof appeared to be collapsing.

No one was injured, even though eight people were inside the building in Rockland when it collapsed. Gas lines were ruptured in both commercial buildings but the leaking was stopped.

Peter Judge, a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman, told the Boston Globe that as more snow falls, the roofs will become more of a concern.

The owner of the Rockland building, Tommy Scolaro, told the Boston Globe that he’d known the 3½ feet of snow on his low-sloped metal roof might be a problem, but he was worried it would be too dangerous to clear it off because of icy conditions on the roof.

Judge seems to second that assessment. “What we don’t want is for people to go up on their roofs, if they’re not able-bodied and know what they’re doing,”he said. “That could be more dangerous.”

Judge recommended cleaning the snow off using roof rakes, which can be used from the ground. Clearing the gutters can also prevent dangerous ice dams. Unfortunately, roof rakes won’t be helpful to residents of Maine: according to The Portland Press Herald, many stores are already sold out of them.

Residents and business owners can also contact roofing companies for safe snow removal or roofing repair, though many companies in the New England area are already inundated with calls.

It’s a call Scolaro probably wishes he’d made, looking at his collapsed building in Rockland. “I’m thinking about building a snowman holding a white flag out front,” Scolaro joked to The Boston Globe. “There’s just so much snow.”

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