Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Damaged store reopening today


Elder-Beerman roof repaired after collapse

BY JANET C. WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — The Elder-Beerman store in Towne Mall will reopen at 10 a.m. today — 10 days after a large section of the roof collapsed, flooding the store.

        “They've shored up the damaged area and put in a temporary wall inside,” Tim Worcester, senior vice president of marketing for Elder-Beerman Stores Corp., said of repair crews. “That way, everything will be completely safe while they work and people shop.”

        The cause of the roof collapse has not been determined, Mr. Worcester said. Engineers have been in the store since last week trying to determine a cause and how to reopen the store while repairs are under way.

        No damage estimate has been made.

        “It gets very complex, because there was also merchandise damaged,” he said. He had no figures on the sales loss suffered by being closed more than a week.

        The roof section collapsed about 3 p.m. June 12, sending water into the store and throughout that corridor of the 22-year-old mall, on Ohio 122 near Interstate 75. Customers and employees fled the store after hearing a loud boom. Some said later they thought a tornado had touched down.

        Initial reports were that the roof became weighed down with water from a thunderstorm that swept the area.

        Two employees were treated at Middletown Regional Hospital for minor injuries.

        Other stores suffered varying degrees of damage as the water poured out into the corridor, but all were reopened by the afternoon of June 14.

        The store has about 104,000 square feet of space, and about 6,000 square feet was extensively damaged. A large part of the store had water flowing through from the roof problem and a water line that broke. Crews were able to clean that up before major damage resulted, store officials said.

        Mr. Worcester said he has no idea how long the repairs will take.

        Meanwhile, customers who had expected to take advantage of a one-day sale and preview day last week will find the sale in the Middletown store today and Wednesday, Mr. Worcester said.

       



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