For Immediate Release - February 20, 2014

MEMA POSTS ROOF COLLAPSE & STORM DRAIN SAFETY INFORMATION

Snow Buildup & Subsequent Heavy Rain Can Present Dangers

FRAMINGHAM, MA – “With the addition of rain in the immediate forecast, dry, fluffy snow piled on roofs can act as a sponge, absorbing any additional moisture, adding weight and stress to structures if not cleared.” states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Kurt Schwartz.  “Flat, commercial roofs are most susceptible if they are not draining properly.  Additionally, MEMA encourages citizens to clear storm drains in their neighborhoods to minimize local flooding problems from any run-off.”

In many cases, roof ice dams can form causing water build-up, leading to interior damage.

To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow:

  • Be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up or snowdrifts on your roofs, particularly roofs that are flat on only have a slight pitch, as on garages, car ports or porches.
  • If roof snow can be removed, from the ground, with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Use caution, as metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.
  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up.  Snow and ice collect on boot soles, and metal ladders.
  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.
  • All of the mentioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults, as the snow is heavy, and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery. Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended. 
  • Clear storm drains along the curb.  Give water a better place to go than your cellar.
  • Also, make sure your neighborhood fire hydrants are cleared and accessible.

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA's staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector - - individuals, families, non-profits and businesses - - MEMA ensures the Commonwealth's ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA and Winter Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema.

Continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMAFacebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA; and YouTube at www.youtube.com/MassachusettsEMA. Download the free ping4alert! app to your Smartphone to receive important weather alerts and messages from MEMA.  Easy instructions are available at www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.