Hurricane Sandy toppled the boom of a crane at the One57 luxury high-rise in Manhattan, and it caused quite the ruckus.
The crane displaced many local residents and folks staying in nearby hotels. The NYPD evacuated the people living or staying nearby.
One private resident who was evacuated from his apartment on the north side of 56th St. wrote to us explaining what happened to him this week.
He's very critical about how the situation was handled by authorities, and he prefaces his story by saying that he understands that he's very lucky compared to the scores of people whose homes were swept away by the storm.
The resident, who requested anonymity, tells his story:
I am currently a resident in one of two row houses built in the early 1920s, walk-up buildings with no doormen. On Monday, October 29 at 6 PM (at the start of the hurricane and well after the deadline when Bloomberg had instructed everyone to stay where they were, indoors, where safety was the most guaranteed), NYPD and FDNY came to our building and buzzed each apartment, telling everyone that they needed to evacuate the building immediately and that the area was being cordoned off due to the collapsed crane.
We were given a very limited amount of time to gather a few things and then leave. Since I thought it was only going to be a 24-hr evacuation (a collapsed crane? should be fixed the day after the storm, if not at least secured), I gathered one or two shirts and toiletries and left my apartment. I had previously prepared by purchasing 4-5 days worth of food and we had full power, internet, wifi, and heat/steam, all to leave behind.
When I left, not a single NYPD offered information as to the nearest shelter, no one offered vehicle transport to a friend/family member or shelter, and I was essentially told to go down to the 6th avenue end of 56th street. When I reached the end of the street (already drenched) two NYPD yelled at me, asking "why are you out in the middle of a ******* hurricane? You're crazy to be out right now, you should seek shelter immediately!" Because there were no trains and no cabs, I walked from 56th street to Washington Square where I was fortunate enough to have a friend to take me in during the hurricane. We lost power, heat, internet, and eventually cell phone reception down in the village by 8p= PM.
The following morning I walked all the way from Washington Square to 90th/Amsterdam to stay with another friend. Every day for four days I would walk down from 90th st to 56th st to check on the status of the street closure. The first day, 56th street between 6th and 7th avenues was completely shut off; the following three days it was opened up to residents on the south side of the street but not to residents on the north side. This is all following countless reports and three press conferences (the mayor missed one day entirely of mentioning the status of the crane) establishing that the crane had "been tethered," "is stable," and "has been secured to the building." Each time, NYPD at the 6th avenue entrance told me that they had no updates and to call 311. 311 for those three days had been so inundated with calls that it had been temporarily shut down or made unavailable.
I would then go to the 18th precinct to get more information and lodge additional complains to hopefully get to someone in charge of the investigation (which ended up taking four days). The first time the 18th precinct gave me the phone number for the NYC Office of Buildings, which is located downtown. Every time I would call, the phone would ring and ring without anyone answering (obviously, since everything south of 39th had been without power until just today). I lodged a complaint with the 18th precinct about them giving an unresponsive number and their response was that the number had been provided by police headquarters.
They gave me the number to police headquarters directly to report the unresponsive number, which I called and spoke with a Detective Ort. She was very rude and basically offered two resources as solutions to my problem: one, a location of a shelter where I could go, sit, and wait; second, to find Red Cross volunteers in blue and yellow T-shirts (who were nowhere in the vicinity of the 18th precinct, Hell's Kitchen, or the crane) and that "they may--MAY--be able to escort me up to my apartment to get a few belongings." When I expressed further upset, she asked if I "wanted help or if [I] want[ed] to ***** some more?"
311 pointed me to the NYPD and the FDNY, the NYPD pointed me to 311 and the Office of Buildings, and the FDNY didn't even have any number listed to contact anyone; I was running in circles with no information. Even when I told the NYPD that I had vital medication I needed to get in my apartment they refused to escort me. This investigation alone took four days to complete.
We are still unable to get into our apartments and have now been displaced for almost a week. We aren't hotel guests who were conveniently relocated to other hotels in a deal Mayor Bloomberg himself admitted to forging with such hotels as Le Parker Meridien. No one is fighting for us to gain access to our homes for which we pay rent (I've paid rent now on an apartment that I've not lived in for a week). We were displaced by the city, and the city should compensate us for the rent spent on these apartment for a week and for food/materials/clothing purchased as a result of being rushed out of our residences in the middle of a hurricane due to a manmade problem. It should also be made public the rudeness and lack of assistance the NYPD and FDNY showed to the city-dwellers it kicked out.
Right now, the crane is still up. They have to build another crane next to it in order to take it down, which will take a few more days. However, the dangling boom has been stabilized and tethered to the building. The portion of 57th St. has been reopened and so has One57.
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