15 fire departments evacuate NY mall fearing roof collapse
The roof of one of Long Island's largest malls was leaking after taking on 3 feet of snow
By Frank Eltman
The Associated Press
LAKE GROVE, N.Y. — One of the biggest malls on Long Island was evacuated Monday because of major roof leaks after a rainstorm followed nearly 3 feet of snow, police said.
The Smith Haven Mall in Suffolk County was cleared by 4 p.m. Monday after significant leaks were detected in more than a dozen stores. Police worried the roof could collapse.
Smithtown Building Department Director John Bongino said that in one of the stores it looked "almost as if there was an open ceiling and it was raining."
The Smith Haven Mall has more than 140 stores. It took about an hour to evacuate it, said Paul Llobell, deputy fire coordinator for Suffolk County.
Llobell said that in one location on the roof there was a 7-foot snow drift.
The evacuation went smoothly, and no injuries were reported, he said.
Fifteen fire and police departments from around the county responded to the scene.
Bongino said mall management will have to call in a structural engineer to determine the mall's structural safety and when it can be reopened. He said it will be done in coordination with the Town of Smithtown Building Department.
Saturday's snowstorm buried parts of the island and stranded motorists. Cleanup was still under way Monday when heavy rains hit.
Roofs collapsed over the weekend at a bowling alley in the county and a home.