FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A shopping plaza in Fort Lauderdale has been ordered closed after part of the outdoor overhang ceiling collapsed.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue units responded to the Southland Shopping Plaza, at 909 West State Road 84, at around 11:40 a.m., Thursday.
Jason Rory was walking underneath the structure when it began to collapse and managed to get out of the way of the falling debris.
“I feel lucky. I feel blessed, obviously,” Rory said. “I didn’t get crushed.”
7SkyForce hovered over the scene where debris and around 80 feet of the ceiling could be seen along the front of a Bealls Outlet store, which was about to open at the time of the partial collapse.
Fire officials determined there is a danger that more of the overhang ceiling will collapse, so the plaza has been shut down as a precaution.
“The safety of our community is always our number one priority, and with this, we’re just uncertain if any more of it is going to fall down,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Steve Gollan. “Structural engineers from the City of Fort Lauderdale are on site and have some concerns with the overhang.”
Inspectors determined the plaza, which houses dozens of businesses, will have to tear down all of the overhanging ceiling to ensure it is safe before they can reopen. However, businesses can serve customers from their rear doors for the time being.
Umair Huck owns a Subway franchise at the plaza. He had to send his employees home on Thursday and does not know when he will reopen.
“I just renovated my store,” he said. “If it’s going to come down to it for three, four days, I lose almost a week worth of business just like that.”
Mike Swinehart owns a bicycle shop in the plaza, and cameras captured the numerous bicycles he has been repairing. He said he is worried about how he can serve his customers during this time.
“Pre-pandemic, this was my showroom,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with the challenge of the pandemic for the last year and a half. Things are picking up, and now, we’re shut down.”
Thursday night, repair crews could be seen working on the ceiling.
No injuries were reported.
The cause of the partial collapse is not yet clear.
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