Sonia Jourdy and her husband Nohad survived being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and were making a go of it in their little store, Picture Perfect Frames in Kingsbridge, the Bronx.
But while they made it through the coronavirus, a final blow came today for this ‘mom-and-pop store when hundreds of pounds of concrete mesh ceiling collapsed into the store, destroying stock and nearly killing them in the process.
At 12:30 p.m. Monday, their efforts to stay in business came suddenly crashing down before their eyes, trapping them briefly from exiting the store. Arriving firefighters found hundreds of pounds of the aging ceiling material, officials believing it to be the original ceiling from when the one-story commercial building at 267 West 231st Street was first constructed more than 60-years-ago.
Firefighters feared the worst, but then, the couple shouted out to the rescuers telling them they were okay. Rescuers then started pulling the debris out of the building, making a path for the couple to escape.
Sonia Jourdy stood outside, her coat and belongings still inside the beleaguered store. She said they had no warning.
“We were inside working when all of a sudden the whole ceiling came down on us,” she said as she stared at the piles of debris and the dust filled business that they had built over 23 years. “We didn’t get hurt, thank God for that. We’ve been running this store for 23 years, but the store itself is more than 60 years. We were closed for months during the pandemic, but now, I think we are going out of business.”
Her neighbor, Alex Gandia, a State Farm Insurance agent who’s office is next door, said it “sounded like a freight train coming through.”
“It just started rolling down like a freight train, so we ran out and called 911 and the firefighters were here in minutes and got them out within seconds,” he said as he comforted the owner.
Fire officials say no injuries were reported and there were no customers in the store at the time. The Department of Buildings was notified to do an immediate inspection of the building as the agency reported the entire ceiling of plaster and wire mesh lath collapsed front to rear had collapsed in unison leaving only the bare roof joists fully exposed.
Still an active scene in the Bronx, inspectors had determined other structural elements of the building “all appear to be stable.”
The DOB has since issued a “full vacate order” for the store and a violation to the building owners for failure to maintain the building later on Monday afternoon.