The collapse of an east Bronx CVS store after it’s snow-laden roof caved in is raising concerns for elderly local residents who now have to ply their way to a distant store for their prescriptions.
A local community leader is also among those concerned about the cause of the collapse.
The CVS at 694 Burke Ave. near White Plains Road was ordered evacuated by responding fire units Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 19. First the roof buckled, then the sidewalls of the store on the Allerton-Olinville neighborhood borderline buckled.
The city Department of Buildings ordered the structure demolished. Construction crews plowed it to the ground that night.
“We’re extremely grateful that there were no injuries,” said Mike DeAngelis, a CVS spokesman, “Our focus right now is ensuring that our customers still have access to pharmacy services”
DeAngelis said prescriptions and all pharmacy operations, including the store’s phone lines, were transferred to a nearby CVS at 732 Allerton Avenue.
The Burke Avenue employees have all been transferred to Allerton Avenue or another location. DeAngelis said the influx of prescriptions and customers won’t detrimentally affect service at the Allerton Avenue CVS.
“We have a contingency plan for when we have to transfer operations,” he said.
But Community Board 12 chairman Father Richard Gorman said the loss of the CVS has had an impact on the local community.
“When you lose any store,” he said, “it affects the community.”
Gorman said that community members use the CVS as a convenience store when they can’t get to a supermarket. More importantly he said, it puts a burden on the elderly and ill who now have to travel farther for their medication.
“When you’re an older person, five or six blocks might as well be five or six miles,” Gorman said.
The Allerton Avenue CVS is half a mile from the former Burke Avenue location.
Gorman said the collapse of the roof concerns him, and that he will be following up with the city Department of Buildings, which is investigation the cause of the collapse.
Buildings spokeswoman Kelly Magee said the investigation into the collapse is still ongoing. The preliminary cause of the collapse, she said, is the failure of metal roof trusses.
But Magee also said that when snow begins to melt on roofs it can cause a collapse.
The department had issued a weather advisory warning on day the collapse, cautioning people that melting snow that collects on roofs can threaten the structural integrity of a building, and that weak, flat roof structures are more likely to collapse under the weight of melting snow.
“The department has been urging property owners to clear snow off their roofs when possible,” Magee said.