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So You Cleared Your Sidewalk, But What About the Roof?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A man removes snow and ice from a roof in Inwood (Julianne Welby)

By now, you may be used to the familiar sound of shovels scraping against pavement or of any sort of sharp object chipping through ice. After all, it's the law to clear your sidewalk within a certain amount of time after a snowstorm. But what about the roof?

While you may not be technically required by law to clear a roof of snow in all jurisdictions, the New York City Department of Buildings says "property owners are legally obligated to maintain their properties in a safe condition." The agency issued an advisory with that reminder on Friday.

Authorities across the region also have been advising the owners of homes and commercial buildings to remove snow from their roofs, following dozens of collapses in recent days.

In one case on Saturday, firefighters freed nine horses that were trapped in a barn in North Salem in Westchester County, after the roof buckled and collapsed under heavy snow.

On Friday evening, authorities say the roof and walls of a building housing a Dutchess County carburetor shop collapsed in the heavy snow. Fire Chief Mark Johnson said no one was in the building at the time. No injuries were reported.

On Saturday and Sunday, six men spent at least six hours clearing the roof of an Inwood row house of all the heavy snow and ice that's built up during several storms this month. It was unclear if and how much the men were paid for the backbreaking work, but quite a few profanities were overheard during their effort.

With reporting from the Associated Press

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