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Smith Haven Mall Evacuated Due To Significant Leaks, Building Official Fears Structural Damage

LAKE GROVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- One of the biggest malls on Long Island was evacuated Monday, after police said there were major roof leaks.

They were detected in dozens of stores in the Smith Haven Mall in Suffolk County, police said. The mall was completely evacuated by 4 p.m.

"Almost as if it was an open ceiling and it was raining. Just picture we're outside and it was raining," Smithtown Building Department director John Bongino told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell.

Bongino said it does appear the mall suffered structural damage.

"One of the steel joists appeared to be a little off kilter, bending a little," Bongino said.

Smith Haven Mall Evacuated Due To Significant Leaks

Parts of Suffolk County were buried in three feet of snow from the blizzard over the weekend, followed by rain on Monday.

"It was determined when they got up on the roof that there was at least a seven foot snow drift," Suffolk County Fire Department spokesman Paul Llobell told Haskell. "When you the snow drift, seven feet of snow, and combine that with all this heavy rain we've had this afternoon, that's like dropping a firetruck on top of this building."

Mall officials said the evacuation was a precaution and police and fire crews remained on scene. Suffolk police are concerned the leak could cause a roof collapse.

The Smith Haven Mall is home to more than 140 stores, according to the mall website.

The mall plans to re-open on Tuesday, the website said.

An engineer is assessing the damage, Haskell reported.

On Saturday, the wet, heavy snow caused the roofs of a home and a bowling alley to collapse in Suffolk County.

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