By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge Eagle
The torrential rainstorm that hit New York on Sunday caused the ceiling to collapse at the Weight Watchers Bay Ridge Center on Fifth Avenue, according to local officials and business leaders, who said the cave-in will likely put the facility out of commission temporarily.
No one was injured in the collapse at the Weight Watchers site at 7516 Fifth Ave. Sunday night, officials said.
“No one was there at the time. It happened at night,” said Jim Clark, president of the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District.
The Bay Ridge Center hosts Weight Watchers meetings and houses a shop where members can purchase food items.
Hundreds of Weight Watchers members visit the Fifth Avenue center each week.
Melanie Cohen, a Weight Watchers leader at the Bay Ridge Center, said the center would likely be closed for four to six weeks while extensive repairs are made.
The building owner at 7516 Fifth Ave. will repair and remodel the space, Cohen said.
“We will get a state-of-the-art remodeling. In a way, something good is coming out of this situation,” she said.
A sign in the window informed members that the center is closed, but announced that all Monday through Saturday meetings would take place at a temporary location beginning Wednesday evening, Aug. 17. The temporary location, Gateway City Church, is located nearby at 267 Bay Ridge Ave.
Members can also visit www.weightwatchers.com to locate other Brooklyn-area meetings.
The storm, which dumped seven inches of rain on the city on a single day, also led to a major problem in Sunset Park, officials said.
Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District, said a sewer and water main break on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets caused a great deal of damage to the avenue’s businesses.
“There was flooding in most of the basements and food establishments had to close until they were cleaned,” Giordano said.
The Department of Environmental Protection “is pumping the hole in the street and will repair the pipes,” she said.
“Many businesses lost a lot of inventory,” said Giordano, who added that representatives from City Comptroller John Liu’s office and the Department of Small Business Services are assisting merchants with filing claims with their insurance companies.
Fred Xuereb, chairman of Community Board Seven in Sunset Park, experienced the storm’s wrath firsthand.
“I had a little flooding in my house,” he said.
Back in Bay Ridge, Councilman Vincent Gentile’s office received reports of damage to some homes and businesses, as well as reports of delays on the subways, according to an aide.
The subway station at 36th Street and Fourth Avenue, where the R, N and D lines all operate, was flooded on Sunday morning, according to officials.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ran shuttle buses until the water was pumped out of the station. Many homes in the area were flooded.
“My own house got some water,” said Clark, who lives in Bay Ridge. “But it only got on my rug. A couple of people I know had two or three inches of water in their basements.”
Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, said the intersection of Ovington and Seventh Avenues had flooding, but that the situation cleared up quickly.
“It’s much better today,” said Beckmann, who was contacted by the Bay Ridge Eagle on Monday. Overall, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights fared pretty well in the rainstorm, Beckmann said.
“I’d say we were very fortunate,” she added.
Bensonhurst was also spared from major problems, said Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11.
“Considering the amount of rainfall we had, I’d say we really did well. We only received one call from a resident regarding street flooding,” she said.