PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Jerry Batista was preparing to pump water off the roof of a vacant Peace Street building when all of a sudden the ceiling began to buckle.
Batista and his father, who owns the building, rushed there in the torrential downpours after a tenant had notified them of a number of new leaks inside.
When they arrived, they immediately knew something was wrong.
“We noticed leaks in new areas, we were hearing loud cracks,” he explained. “At that point we figured there was too much water on the roof and we needed to figure out a plan to pump the water off.”
But as they began to collect the tools necessary to make the repairs, Batista said things took a turn for the worse.
“I was in the area of the building where we keep all of our equipment when I stared hearing loud cracks,” he recalled. “Then all of a sudden the electricity cut out.”
That’s not all. Batista watched in horror as a portion of the roof gave way right in front of him, sending water gushing into the building.
“It all happened very fast,” he added.
Batista said he ran out of the building and alerted his father to what he’d just witnessed.
Thankfully, no one else was inside at the time and Batista wasn’t injured.
The roof collapse sent bricks and debris flying into the street and caused significant damage inside the building.
The Providence Police Department previously said no one was inside at the time, though video captured by Batista moments before the roof collapsed shows otherwise.
Video Now: Providence roof collapse caught on camera (Story continues below video.)
Batista described the ordeal as a major setback for his family, adding that they’ve been slowly redeveloping the property into a shopping plaza since 2017.
“We’re just saddened,” he said. “To see this happen is crushing.”
Batista’s father estimates that 25% of the roof collapsed Monday and the majority of their tenants have been displaced.
“We’re taking it step by step,” he said. “We have engineers and professionals involved to figure out how we can move forward and get back to where we were with developing.”
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