Page One

Clogged drains cause apartment building's ceiling to collapse

By Judith Scherr Daily Planet
Wednesday January 02, 2002

First there was a “big boom.” 

Then a “wall of water came through the front door and went like a stream out the back door,” said Jon Renata Monday morning as he stood outside his ground-floor apartment at 2012 Channing Way.  

At 7:10 p.m. on Sunday, the roof on the two-story apartment collapsed from the weight of “a large accumulation of water on the roof,” according to Deputy Fire Chief Debra Pryor. 

“There were plugged drains on the roof,” she added.  

Firefighters deemed the building unsafe and occupants spent the night elsewhere. On Monday, city inspectors took a closer look at the building and, according to Deputy Planning Director Wendy Cosin, said no one could re-enter the building until the roof was safely shored up. After the initial work was done, the building would be “yellow tagged,” which means that tenants could go back in to retrieve their belongings, but not reside there. 

Renata, who had spent the night on the couch of a neighbor in a neighboring apartment building, said it’s the first time in his 17 years living in the building that something quite this dramatic has happened. However, he said that people in the front two ground-level units get flooded every year. “You have to beg (the manager) to do anything,” he said. 

A person who works for owner Andrew Lipnosky, who declined to give his name, did not deny the flooding of the front apartments. He pointed to a downspout in front of one of these and noted that the pipe often gets clogged with leaves.  

The cause of the roof collapse had not yet been determined, he said. 

During the rainy weekend “maintenance crews had tried to keep things working,” but there was a lot to be done, he said. “We can’t keep up.” 

He said he had offered an empty unit in another building to Renata who had not yet decided what to do. 

Property owner Lipnosky could not be reached for comment.