New York Logo intel

New York City Will Demolish At Least 200 Hurricane-Damaged Homes

By
Kathy Lahey sifts through her damaged home for items to save November 4, 2012 in the Breezy Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. With the death toll currently over 100 and millions of homes and businesses without power, the US east coast is attempting to recover from the effects of floods, fires and power outages brought on by Superstorm Sandy.
Destroyed homes in Breezy Point. Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Hundreds of New York City homes wrecked by Hurricane Sandy will be demolished after being deemed hazardous to the safety of the public and to nearby buildings. "About 200 homes will be bulldozed in the coming weeks and months, almost all of them one- and two-family houses on Staten Island, in Queens and Brooklyn," reports the New York Times. "That is in addition to 200 houses that are already partially or completely burned down, washed away or otherwise damaged; those sites will also be cleared."

The city is inspecting close to 500 other buildings which might need to come down. “We’ve never had this scale before,” said Buildings Department commissioner Robert L. LiMandri. “This is what New Yorkers have read about in many other places and have never seen, so it is definitely unprecedented. And by the same token, when you walk around in these communities, people are scared and worried, and we’re trying to make every effort to be up front and share with them what they need to do." (For a little comparison, thousands of buildings were razed in New Orleans post-Katrina, but this is still awful.)

All the demolition-marked homes were older and near water. A small number of homes in the Bronx may come down, while none in Manhattan appear endangered.

Some people may not even be contacted before their houses are demolished. Per the Times:

But, in some cases, where the danger is imminent, the department will issue an emergency declaration to bulldoze the buildings, even if the owners have not been contacted.

“This is not easy, in this case, because of all these displaced people, but we’re going to do the best we can, but we may have to move on it if we can’t find them,” Mr. LiMandri said.

And it gets worse:

Eric A. Ulrich, a Republican city councilman from Queens who represents Breezy Point, Belle Harbor, Broad Channel and some of the other affected neighborhoods, said that he had not been notified of the demolitions, but that the forced destruction of people’s homes would come as a terrible shock.

“My constituents have been through so much, and they are just so distraught, and if that were to happen and if they were told that the home that they grew up in or they bought has to be taken against their will, it’s just devastating news,” he said.

The issue of rebuilding — as well as who'll pay for the demolition — remains a question mark.

Latest News from Daily Intelligencer

The Presidential Candidates vs. Selfies

No, selfies will not decide the election, but politicians and their staff have had to develop some coping strategies.

After Massive Upset, There’s a New Top Dog in Competitive Eating

Eight-time champion Joey Chestnut has finally lost Nathan's annual hot-dog-eating contest.

A Look at the Fear and Despair in Greece

With Sunday's bailout referendum looming, one man's experience helps illustrate the tensions overwhelming the country.

Study Warns of Toxic Air From Fourth of July Fireworks

More proof that everything fun is bad for you.

For the First Time in 12 Years, Measles Has Killed an American

After last year's record number of infections, the newly reported death illustrates how the anti-vaccination movement puts those with weak immune systems at risk.

Even the Times Square Characters Are Moving to Brooklyn

“I don’t come to the Boardwalk to hang out with inaccurate versions of characters."

Jim Webb Decides to Join Democratic Presidential Race

"I understand the odds ..."

Chocolate-Makers Help Save Cat From Engine Compartment of Pickup Truck

The cat was found trapped in fan blades after a 28-mile ride.

Bernie Sanders Fills Arena in Wisconsin With Nearly 10,000 Excited Supporters

“In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of people here."

Obama Picks a Labor Fight With Scott Walker

Is he trying to pick Hillary Clinton's opponent, too?