April 08, 2020

Snow, ice weighing on roofs creates problems in County> Houlton store with sagging ceiling closed for day

HOULTON — The weight of last week’s snow and ice pellets on roofs in southern Aroostook County continues to pose problems for home and business owners alike.

Part of a potato house on Station Street used for storage by Aroostook Milling collapsed last Thursday night. A four-bay garage in East Hodgdon reportedly collapsed over the weekend.

On Monday, the roof at Varney’s Auto Supply on North Street in Houlton caved in 8 inches, cracking a false beam inside the store.

Store Manager Burt McNally said the sag in the ceiling was noticed at about 9 a.m. As a safety precaution, the store was evacuated and closed for the day.

McNally said that some of the drains on the roof had frozen over, causing ice to build up under the snow. More than a foot of sleet that fell last week only added to the weight problem.

Employees spent most of the day Monday using snow blowers to clear the snow off the roof so that work could begin inside to jack beans back in place.

Other employees who were working in the office on the second level of another part of the building did not evacuate right away. With people on the roof working, however, they could hear the roof straining and decided to leave.

“We heard a kind of cracking when they were walking up there,” said Catherine Davis. “We grabbed our coats and went out the door. It was scary.”

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service on Tuesday was calling for up to 6 inches more of snow, some of which could be mixed with ice pellets and freezing rain.

Insurance companies in the Greater Houlton area reported that about eight to 10 claims for roof collapses had been filed for both residential and commercial buildings, including barns, as of Tuesday. Damage, they said, ranged from minor to serious.

“They need to get them shoveled off,” said Randy Lincoln, of the Randy Lincoln Agency in Houlton.

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