SEABROOK — The thick blanket of snow is putting a heavy strain on roofs, and nowhere was that more apparent than at the region’s largest retail store, the Walmart Supercenter in the new Seabrook Commons shopping center.
Yesterday the sign on the front doors of a locked Walmart explained that due to “weather related” issues, it was closed until further notice. It directed those seeking the retailer’s pharmacy services to nearby CVS.
According to fire Chief Bill Edwards, store officials called him yesterday morning, saying they were closing the store as a precaution due to the amount of snow that had accumulated on the roof.
“We received no information that there was structural damage,” Edwards said yesterday afternoon. “They called and said they felt there was just getting to be too much weight on the roof because of all the snow. They said they measured from 32 to 48 pounds per square foot and that the roof was rated for 50 (psf). It was getting close, so they closed as a safety precaution.”
Edwards said Deputy Chief Koko Perkins went over to check things out and came back with a similar explanation of the situation.
Store officials were nowhere to be seen yesterday, but the crew hired to shovel the roof was there. According to the young men, they’d been shoveling most of the day. There was a lot of snow, they said, but no collapse or buckling.
According to Edwards, Walmart wasn’t the only flat-roofed entity in town that had taken action shoveling roofs. A drive down Route 1 in Seabrook revealed a number of the nation’s big-box retailers, some with snow showing on the roofs, others without.
Other smaller entities showed a variety of snow levels atop their roofs, indicating the result of winds that in some cases cleared snow off structures completely or caused large drifts in other spots.
With a reported 196,000-square-foot footprint, Walmart is one of the largest stores in town, and its roof covers nearly all that square footage.
Usually packed with shoppers from both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, those who traveled there yesterday found a pretty empty parking lot and disappointment. The store was expected to be open today, after the roof was cleared.
After reading the sign and walking back to her parked car, one woman joked with another bystander.
“I should have known something was wrong when I found all the empty parking spaces up close,” she said.