Heavy snow was replaced by slush and icy rain as another nasty winter weather barrage sliced across the region this weekend.
And with it, new problems arose.
Several businesses with flat roofs suffered structural damage after the ice piled on top of the heavy snow already on the buildings.
“The rain on top of melting snow is causing structural damage to buildings with flat roofs. If the drains are stopped up, water has no place to go,” said Tiger Robinson, Pulaski County Public Safety Director. “The weight of the snow plus the new rain on top of it is too much weight for the roof.”
Businesses were being forced to close Saturday due to leaking roofs. In one case, the roof of an empty office in Grand Central Plaza completely collapsed. The T.J. Maxx clothing store shares a wall with the damaged office. That store was closed due to buckling walls.
Doreen Thompson, spokesperson for TJX Companies Inc., issued this statement:
“At T.J. Maxx, the safety of our customers and Associates is of the utmost importance. We can confirm that our Somerset store is temporarily closed, following a roof collapse earlier this afternoon. We are pleased to report that all customers and Associates had been safely evacuated by the fire department prior to the incident. We are assessing the damage and will determine a re-opening date once the process is complete. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this may cause and if they would like assistance finding a nearby store, we encourage them to call our customer service line at 1-800-926-6299.”
Robinson said that Belk’s in the Somerset Mall and Sk8ters Paradise also had damage. There was also reports of a leaky roof at Bath and Body Works at the Somerset Mall. Somerset Police Capt. Shannon Smith confirmed there were reports of a major water problem at Belk’s. No Somerset Mall spokesperson could be reached at deadline.
Meanwhile law enforcement had to cope with dangerous driving conditions, particularly in the early-morning hours on Saturday, after freezing rain coated the highways and warmer temperatures sent melting snow into the streets.
“We did have some slick road conditions associated with the slush from the melting snow,” Smith said. “The secondary problem is water pooling where storm drains are clogged by slush, or dammed up from snow plow operations. Water can be deep in places.
“Side streets are still very slick,” Smith added. “Drivers should use caution.”
Karl Clinard, public affairs officer for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, said that one problem his agency has dealt with is an increase in the number of domestic disturbance calls.
“Everyone is cooped up with each other,” he said. “There’s a number of calls about domestic disharmony.”
The sheriff’s department’s advice? “Just try to get along with each other,” said Clinard.
Temperatures are predicted to rise to 36 degrees on Sunday — but it will be only a brief respite from frigid air. The low may dip to the mid-teens Sunday night, and a predicted low of about 1 above zero for Monday.