CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One gallon of water weighs more than eight pounds -- and for at least two homes in Nicholas County, the 20 inches of snow stacked on their roofs from superstorm Sandy was just too much.
An elderly woman was rescued from her trailer in Canvas after the roof collapsed following high winds and heavy rain and snow Monday night and Tuesday morning. West Virginia National Guard members rescued the woman, according to the Nicholas Chronicle.
Guard members also rescued a family when their roof collapsed in Cottle, said Carla Hennessey, Nicholas County's director of emergency services.
No injuries were reported in either incident, Hennessey said, but both homes were completely ruined "due to the weight of the snow on the roof."
Other homes and businesses across West Virginia suffered roof damage from the storm. Hennessey said because Nicholas County was expecting more snow from Sandy, there "is no way to travel" to repair such damages.
Jay Marino, owner of Charleston contracting company Al Marino Inc., said Tuesday that his workers can't repair homes until power is restored, which utility companies have said would take days.
Marino said he and one of his technicians tried to get to a customer's home on Childress Road Tuesday, but numerous fallen trees and downed power lines stopped them.
Marino said he didn't get any calls Tuesday about collapsed roofs, but he did get quite a few about water leaks coming from roofs.
The snow created ice dams, which probably led to the roof collapses, Marino said.
An ice dam occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice, he said. When snow melts rapidly, the water can be diverted back up under roof shingles, Marino said. The snow melts almost as fast as it accumulates, he said.
"Even though the roof may be intact, and there may not even be a bad place in the roof, it's just caused by this type of unusual storm with a lot of heavy, wet snow. It sticks, and at the same time, it's trapping water," Marino explained.
"You can imagine, with the square footage of a roof, if you have 10 inches of not just snow, but moisture-laden snow, that's a tremendous amount of weight, and roofs are not really designed to withstand that."
But people who wake up to a snow-covered roof shouldn't panic, he said.
There are two ways to check the roof's safety without actually risking climbing on top -- which Marino never recommends.