AUBURN (CBS) — “Wow,” said Governor Deval Patrick as he surveyed the collapsed Quonset-style roof and talked with the owners of Interstate Battery as he looked over the damage done to their business on Route 20 in Auburn.
The building’s arched roof suddenly caved in under the pressure of snow saturated by sleet and freezing rain this week. Workers inside the store heard cracking moments before the roof came down.
WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.
“I looked up and the insulation started coming down. So I ran to the back of the building and he followed. And then I said, ‘It’s coming at us, we need to get out of here,’” said employee Paul Mondino.
“I just hopped right out of there as fast as I could and I probably made it before it really, really came down like this. We probably gave ourselves about 20 seconds,” said co-worker George Hetherman.
“If anyone hears this kind of cracking, get out of the building as quickly as possible,” said the governor, who urged the state’s residents to heed warnings such as doors that suddenly stick. He said, “This is not a reason for panic, it is a reason for care and diligence.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports.
“I hope it really does raise awareness to everybody about what can happen…A lot of people are saying when you look at it, it’s one of the strongest structures you can build,” observed Nate Stawiecki, owner of the business.
His wife ran from the building as the roof collapsed. “It was really loud, like a lot of pressure. Our ears popped, everything. It was just it was pretty scary,” said Arelis Stawiecki just after it happened.
In neighboring Worcester, building inspectors were called to several three-deckers that had roof, wall and porch damage. “We can take precautions. People need to be safe,” said the governor.
“I just think the minute you hear anything, that maybe something’s happening, just get out,” said Arelis Stawiecki.
Kurt Schwartz, Undersecretary of Public Safety, urged homeowners to stay off ladders and roofs when clearing snow, suggesting they use a roof rake instead. He also cautioned against using metal objects near electrical wires.
As for businesses clearing snow from roofs, Schwartz said that should be done under supervision or instruction of a structural engineer.
State Fire Marshal Steve Coan warned property owners to make sure dryer and furnace vents are clear to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Ironically, the building housing Interstate Battery is owned by a man who also owns D and R Roofing. He’s hoping to quickly rebuild and have the place back in business in four to six weeks.
The Governor is asking the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to quickly work with the Small Business Administration for federal relief from physical or economic damage to businesses and homes in the form of low interest loans.
Schwartz said his staff was meeting with federal officials Friday to talk about eligibility for snow removal aid to counties that received record or near-record snowfall.