Pictures from inside a popular Charlotte mall show the extent of damage left behind when two sections of the mall's roof collapsed on Friday.
Mall officials had said on Sunday, SouthPark Mall is expected to fully reopen on Tuesday after it was evacuated and "closed indefinitely" on Friday when a section of the roof collapsed, causing the mall to flood.
Officials with Simon Properties, the company that owns and manages the mall, met with code enforcement officials Tuesday and agreed to hire professional engineers to stay on site and install an interim drainage plan.
With that plan in place, the County Enforcement Office has given approval to open every store within 240 feet of the Gap and Banana Republic, where the majority of the damage occurred.
The reopening begins with regular business hours on Wednesday.
The mall had hoped to have all stores open for business on Tuesday.
Safety officers, inspectors, and engineers from the Charlotte Fire Department worked through the weekend to inspect each store to make sure their fire alarms and sprinkler systems were working before stores could reopen.
Charlotte Fire Department spokesman Captain Rob Brisley said that when the roof collapsed in two different sections during a storm on Friday evening, it brought down and damaged water pipes adding to the water that came gushing into the mall.
The incident was reported at the SouthPark Mall on Friday evening, along the 4400 block of Sharon Road, shortly after 5 p.m.
Firefighters evacuated the mall after a section of the roof collapsed over the GAP store and another section over the Banana Republic store.
Employees inside the mall told WBTV that it sounded like a shooting when the roof first buckled and collapsed and several people went screaming and running for the exits.
"I was leaving work and we were walking down the corridor of the mall and we thought we heard gunshots," said JCrew employee Lauren Bollinger.
Structural engineers were called to the mall by officials to determine how sound the structure is.
"We're glad everyone is safe," said Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan.
Heavy downpours hammered the area around the mall in south Charlotte, as thunderstorms moved through the area. No injuries have been reported, according to the fire department.
Employees working at the mall were sent home for the evening after the roof collapsed.
According to the mall's Twitter account, several stores and restaurants reopened on Saturday.
Those stores are Belk, Dillard's, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, The Container Store, Dick's Sporting Goods & Village at SouthPark shops/restaurants.
Maggiano's, The Cheesecake Factory, City Tavern and McCormick & Schmicks reopened on Saturday as well.
Store managers and mall employees were alerted via Facebook on Saturday morning that they would not be able to get into their store, unless it was reopened, per the instructions from the Fire Marshal.
During the height of the storm, motorists were advised to avoid the SouthPark area as many streets flooded. For a short time, several neighborhoods in the area were considered inaccessible.
"We will absolutely try and minimize the impact as much as we can and be safe for our citizens," Hannan added.
Friday, May 24 2013 4:38 AM EDT2013-05-24 08:38:10 GMT
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