ATLANTA – Jaha Williams was sitting at the bar enjoying a meal at the Blu Cantina Lounge on Peters Street in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood Monday evening during a driving rainstorm when she said she heard a loud booming noise. She said she thought the booming sound was gunshots, and as others yelled to drop to the floor, she did so, but was shocked to find debris raining down on her as the restaurant’s roof caved in.
Almost half of the roof collapsed at the restaurant, injuring six people and sending one man to the hospital with a head injury. Atlanta Police said the collapse happened at about 8:40 p.m., at 257 Peters Street, S.W. Atlanta Fire Department officials said about 30-to-35 people were inside the restaurant when the collapse occurred. Williams was back in front of the restaurant on Tuesday morning and spoke with 11Alive’s Deborah Tuff. “Boom, boom, boom!” Williams said she heard. She thought the noise was that of gunshots. Instead, it was the noise of the roof coming down on top of her.
Someone yelled nearby. “Everbody get on the ground! Get on the ground!” “As they were telling us to get on the ground, we were getting hit with debris, and then the roof caved in,” she said. “Once the roof caved in, a lot of water came. So a lot of us had to actually try to swim out, because there was just so much water on top of the rain that was happening.” Williams said she was pretty angry, since no one was able to give her additional information. She says she still has personal items inside the lounge, and Atlanta Public Safety authorities said it would be at least three days before anyone would be allowed inside the building.
“We had a period of heavy rain and it’s possible that flat roofs like this one couldn’t handle that much accumulation without sufficient drainage,” said Sgt. Cortez Stafford. Stafford said most people had evacuated the restaurant by the time first responders arrived. “A large group had gathered just outside the building and we had to move them back in case any more of the structure collapsed,” Stafford said. Four people were taken to the hospital for treatment. Stafford said the collapse could have been more severe.