, Salem, MA


February 4, 2011

Danger above

Post-storm roof troubles plague the North Shore


"We want to make sure it is structurally sound before putting cars back in," Hamilton police Chief Russell Stevens said yesterday.

Hamilton Building Inspector Charles Brett recommended students not return to school until all district buildings could be evaluated, Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan said. The district was looking for a contractor to shovel school roofs yesterday afternoon, and snow removal was expected to stretch through the weekend.

"(Brett) recommended we remove the snow, from the high school especially, because of the square footage and the flat roof," Buchanan said. "In the meantime, we'll have a structural engineer go through, which was also recommended by the building inspector."

"It looks like I don't have any other choice (than to cancel school), which I don't mind for the safety of the kids," he said.

Peabody schools were closed yesterday in part because of concerns about the amount of snow on the roofs of the city's 10 public schools.

"The building inspector (Kevin Goggin) was out (yesterday) looking at the buildings, and there are no issues," said C. Milton Burnett, the schools superintendent. "This is all precautionary. We have no reported structural problems."

Some of the schools had more snow than others because of snowdrifts and the location and pitch of the roofs. About two dozen people were out yesterday at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School shoveling off snow, which in some places was several feet high, Burnett said.

Clearing all the snow from the school buildings is a daunting task. Peabody, with eight elementary schools, one middle school and one high school, has more than 1 million square feet of roof space across the district, Burnett said.

"We've been shoveling for over a week," he said.

An outside contractor was hired to supplement school custodians and maintenance people. There were more than 40 people out clearing snow off the roofs of Peabody schools yesterday, Burnett said.

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