Casualty of rain? Fractured Northshore Publix wall called a cosmetic problem

Steps leading to the Publix parking lot are closed as the huge retaining wall to the east is suspected of moving as a result of recent heavy rains. Yellow caution tape blocks the sidewalk and sand bags have been placed in the roadway along Woodland and Hamilton Avenues.

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Shoppers making their grocery run to the Northshore Publix will be greeted by an unsettling sight: a split directly up the middle of a 25-foot retaining wall encircling the store's parking lot.

After record rainfall in Chattanooga, several of the stone blocks have separated along a seam, leaving some of the large stones perched precariously over a now-vacant portion of the lot. Publix employees used upended shopping carts to hold up a temporary plastic fence and cordon off a couple dozen parking spaces immediately next to the damage.

But according to employees, customers have little to fear because a steel barrier is hidden behind the stone wall.

Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for Publix, said the visible damage is primarily cosmetic rather than structural and that there is no time frame laid out for completing repairs.

A team of engineers, developers and a construction company are consulting to find a fix, but Reid said holiday schedules and continued rain have hampered progress.

Though the damaged portion of the wall is just a facade, Reid said the repair team is "evaluating it now" in order to fully address the issue.

"We want to make sure we're doing it right and not just put a Band-Aid on it," she said.

Anthony Cavalucci, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn., said that although Tuesday was sunny in Chattanooga, today "rainfall is expected to start moving in around seven in the morning, and it's probably going to last all day."

He said Chattanooga residents probably can expect up to a quarter of an inch of rainfall.

Matt Sena, a National Weather Service forecaster in Peachtree, Ga., said residents further south can expect more rainy weather today.

"We are looking at rain likely at least through the day," he said. "[There is] potential for another inch to two inches throughout the area of central Georgia, but the farther north you get the more it tapers off."

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.