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Heavy snow load collapses roof of Delta Junction’s only grocery store

Tim Hubscher/ Facebook
A photograph taken by a Delta resident through a window in the front of the IGA Food Cache a shows an avalanche of snow just left of center, behind the Duracell battery display stand.

Delta gas station/convenience store roof also fails

The winter storm that dumped snow and freezing rain on the Interior over the holiday weekend also caused the roofs of two buildings in Delta Junction to partially collapse Sunday.

A portion of the roof over the IGA grocery store in Delta collapsed around noon Sunday.

Charlie Velasco was working in the liquor store two doors down from the IGA, but he says he didn’t hear the cave in. He told customers about it, however, and let them know how they could get out of there, if necessary.

“We do have one exit here and there’s one there,” Velasco said, pointing to the front doors, “and then there’s one at the back.”

The part of the roof that collapsed appeared to be located on the left side of the supermarket, where the deli is located. Store owner Ed Larson was unavailable to talk about it Sunday, but he posted a message on Facebook that evening stating the store will be temporarily closed until he can deal with insurance issues and then get the roof fixed.

But Velasco says the cave-in didn’t affect the liquor store, nor a restaurant and a Wells Fargo branch office next door.

“So far, everything is normal here,” he said, “and the bank is normal. So they should be, hopefully, up and running.”

Tim Ellis/KUAC
An unusual sight: the IGA Food Cache parking lot was empty after the store was closed Sunday.

No one was hurt in that cave-in nor in another that happened about eight hours later at a nearby gas station and convenience store. But that’s about all that Buffalo Center Service co-owner Eileen Herman could say about it Sunday evening.

“I just don’t really know anything, because it just happened,” she said. “Y’know, you can’t call insurance, you can’t call anybody to do anything.”

Herman says she closed the business after a portion of its roof above the service bays collapsed. And she said she’s not sure when she’ll reopen it, adding “at least, ‘til we find out something a little more concrete about what we can and can’t do.”

A weather expert says there’s one thing that everyone in the Interior can do: consider the amount of snow that’s accumulated on the roof of their homes and other structures, and consider taking measures to reduce that snow load.

“It is definitely for residents to start paying attention to how much snow they have on their structures,” says National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Plumb. “And especially this time of the winter, as we start getting more and more snow building up.”

Plumb says some of that additional buildup will come tonight and last through Wednesday.

“Around the Fairbanks area, we could see another 8 to 10 inches of snow, from Fairbanks and out toward Chena Hot Springs Road,” he said Sunday evening.

Plumb says the Delta Junction area has gotten a lot more snow earlier this season than did Fairbanks. And he says that may be why the weight of the snow that’s fallen in one area around Delta comes to a relatively hefty 31 pounds per square foot.

By comparison, he said, “Over here at Creamer’s Field, in Fairbanks, it’s about 26 pounds per square foot.”

Herman, the Delta gas station co-owner, adds it’s especially important for those who live in smaller communities to pay attention to winter concerns like snow load, because if they don’t, they may have to suffer days, maybe weeks, of going without a grocery store.

“It’s kind of a blow to the whole community with IGA” closing temporarily, she said, “and now us.”

Tim Ellis has been working as a KUAC reporter/producer since 2010. He has more than 30 years experience in broadcast, print and online journalism.