Massachusetts Officials Counsel Residents on Potential for Snow-Related Roof Collapses

Man Examining and Repairing Rotten Leaking House Roof

After receiving several more feet of snowfall in a historic storm, Massachusetts state officials issued a warning Feb. 9 for residents and business owners to find safe ways to remove snow from building roofs. There have already been multiple collapsed roofs from the mounting weight of snow across the state.

Commercial buildings with flat roofs are at particular risk, but home roofs with relatively shallow pitches can also accumulate enough snow to precipitate collapse.

Peter Judge, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, cautioned that hiring a contractor might be the safest choice for some people. “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 told the Boston Globe. “That could be more dangerous.”

Judge recommended that residents use roof rakes so they could remove snow while safely on the ground.

A set of snow emergency guidelines put out by Boston suburb Stoneham warned homeowners that four feet of fresh snow, two feet of packed snow or four inches of ice on a roof constituted dangerous levels requiring immediate attention.

Sagging roofs, roof leaks, cracked beams, rippled supports, cracked plaster or masonry, doors and windows that pop open or are difficult to close, and creaking or popping sounds are all signs of roof problems that should be inspected by a professional.
Growing Demand Swamping Contractors

Roofing and snow removal companies, however, were inundated across the state as homeowners and businesses followed officials’ advice.

George Vasiliades, manager of Olympic Roofing in Topsfield, said the business was averaging a phone call every three minutes, and was only being able to keep up with 15% of calls — despite hiring 50 temporary workers to aid 80 regular employees.

“We tell people we’ll go see their roof to assess it,” Vasiliades told the Boston Herald Feb. 11. “If we think there’s a hazard, we’ll prioritize it. But I’m booked for the next five or six days.”

Stores have even sold out of rakes, making it difficult for homeowners to safely take the task on themselves.

The state is unlikely to get a break, either; meteorologists are predicting more storms throughout the next week and a half.

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