Some roofs collapse under weight of ice; road conditions still unsafe

The roof at Max Bowl in Crossett was one of several structures in the area that apparently buckled under the weight of accumulated snow and ice following recent extreme winter weather. (SUBMITTED/News Observer)

UPDATED: Feb. 24


At first it was pretty. Then it was cold. And then it went from light and fluffy to altogether too heavy.

After three days of off-and-on snow and sleet in Ashley County starting late Feb. 14 and continuing through Feb. 17, the sun came out but the weather remained cold. In some places, the snow began to melt under the sun’s radiant heat, but — because of the temperatures that remained well below freezing — it froze back in place.

As the week progressed, the weight of the accumulated ice began to bear down on some roofs and structures, and by the end of the week a number of them had bent or outright collapsed. Many of the collapses happened the night of Feb. 18 or morning of Feb. 19.

One of those roofs was at Hood Packaging’s Crossett location. While a message requesting comment left at Hood’s corporate headquarters was not returned by press time, a person familiar with the situation said the company was evaluating the situation before moving forward.

In Crossett’s business district, SheBrews Coffee’s awning collapsed and temporarily halted business, though the café was back open within days. The covering over the former Eagles’ Nest gas station at the intersection of Fairview and Unity roads — which is currently empty — also fell under the weight of its rooftop load, as did one of the structures at the Wiggins Cabin; the Cabin itself escaped intact. On Main Street, Krafted Sweets’ outside covered roof fell.

More devastating to the business was the roof at Max Bowl in Crossett. The roof there had a total structural failure, damaging not only the ceilings and the floors beneath, but the walls as well. Level Ground Fellowship, a church in North Crossett, also experienced a catastrophic roof collapse because of the ice.

In addition to requesting that the public remain off the property, Max Bowl owners Scott and Doris McAllister posted online following the collapse that they would return league equipment and that the prize fund would be counted out this week. “Thank you to all our bowlers,” the owners wrote. “You’re the best.”

In addition to the more dramatic scenes of fallen roofs and damaged buildings, residents had to deal with other storm-related headaches.

By Feb. 20, the City of Crossett, the Crossett Water Commission and WACWA were asking residents to check their properties for any signs of leaking water because water resources were depleting at that time because of leaks.

The water commission later said the source of the leaks were located, but still requested that residents conserve water use as possbile and continue to look for signs of leaks as ice and snow melted.

The State of Arkansas’s Individual Disaster Assistance Program has been opened for damages caused by the storm to people’s primary residences. The funds can assist “restoring the owner-occupied primary residence to its condition before the disaster,” and “replacement or repair of disaster related damages to personal property as long as it is within the home and it can be proven that the damage was a result of the disaster.” Cleaning and sanitizing property following a disaster may also be an allowable expense in some cases under the program.

Ashley County Judge Jim Hudson has publicly requested that everyone who has building damage take pictures so that he can work with the county’s Office of Emergency Management to help the residents of the county get help in recovering from the storm. Hudson could not be reached for comment for this article.

Addressing the crowd at Monday’s city council meeting in Crossett, Mayor Crystal Marshall encouraged those present to document the damage for the county judge’s office.

“It’s really important that we get all of our damage information to Judge Hudson,” she said. “If you know anyone who had damage or if you had damage, please contact Judge Hudson with the info or you can contact me and I will help get everything to him.”

The county judge’s office can be reached at 870-853-2000. The Crossett mayor’s office can be reached at 870- 364-8645

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