by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - About half of the stores at SouthPark mall are open, and shoppers will be able to go into even more Tuesday.
Cleanup has been under way since the partial roof collapse on Friday.
But someone working inside the mall came to Channel 9, worried there might be hazardous materials. Eyewitness News anchor Scott Wickersham turned to the Charlotte Fire Department to find out if the mall is safe.
When Eyewitness News asked the manager of SouthPark Mall if there was anything like asbestos in the roof that collapsed, he said he does not know and he won't know until an expert investigates.
On Monday, Eyewitness News saw shoppers heading into the mall, and a lot of trucks and workers from water restoration companies, some wearing masks.
Taking a closer look, Eyewitness News saw a huge blower pumping air inside a damaged store to dry it out.
The worker on the inside is concerned that the blower could be sending asbestos or any other toxic material into the mall where shoppers could breathe it in, or that it could be left on the floor, spread by the floodwaters that chased shoppers out of the mall Friday.
New pictures show how much dust and debris the collapse created. Banana Republic was full of concrete and metal. In a hallway, the wall is buckled in.
“We've been taking samples and we installed an air monitor and so far, nothing has shown up,” said Battalion Chief Tim Rogers with the Charlotte Fire Department.
The fire department said there is no evidence of asbestos in the air.
“Right now, the environment is safe,” Rogers said. “So we allow people to work and folks to enjoy other parts of the mall.”
So they say the air is safe, but what about the roof?
Engineer Matt Hickey said a roof like this is built to withstand 4 inches of rain per hour. He said he would look at the drainage system first as a possible cause and then the roof itself.
“Whether it was it properly designed -- did it have corrosion or damage over the years, or were there flaws in the construction,” Hickey said.
The Charlotte Fire Department and Simon Properties both said a plan is in place to keep the incident from happening again the next time there’s a bad storm in SouthPark. They wouldn't give details of that plan, other than to say it is extensive.
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