As the city prepares to bulldoze more than 200 homes badly damaged by Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg assured New Yorkers on Monday that these demolitions will not take place without the consent of homeowners. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
One home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens looked like it was hanging on by a thread Monday. Others nearby were missing walls and one seemed to be sinking into the sand. The physical damage these buildings suffered was so great that it made the red sign on doors that marked a home as an "unsafe area" almost seem redundant.
"Most hurricanes have left a little bit of debris, or a roof has to be repaired or a window blown in,” said Lucy McDonough, a Belle Harbor resident. “But nothing like this.”
Some of these homes barely survived Sandy. And it is possible they will not survive a plan by the city to bulldoze buildings that were hardest hit by the storm.
At an unrelated Monday press conference about public schools, Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimated that about 200 to 300 houses will be torn down. That is about a third of the homes that have been given a red marker by the city.
He urged New Yorkers in those homes not to panic.
“Most of those buildings will not fall down and we're certainly not going to do anything with them until we talk to the owner,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor said the city will be in contact with homeowners before any demolition is carried out. The only exceptions to that are buildings deemed a threat to public safety.
"If the police report that the building is leaning over and getting worse and going to fall on somebody, we'd do it instantly," Bloomberg said. "Quick as we could get someone out there, cordon off the area."
City Councilman Eric Ulrich represents many of Rockaways neighborhoods that were devastated by Sandy. Like the mayor, he tried to calm down local residents who were worried their home may be on the city's tear-down list.
"We are going to make every effort possible to get in touch with these homeowners to make sure they are notified about the condition of their property or their house, so they can, in turn with the Buildings Department, make the decision about whether they want their homes demolished," Ulrich said.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Buildings said the demolitions would take place in the next few weeks.