City Begins Plan To Bulldoze Hundreds Of Storm-Wrecked Homes

A home in Sea Gate damaged (in the rear) by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

On a scale never before attempted in New York City, hundreds of Hurricane Sandy-damaged homes in Brooklyn and Queens are set for bulldozing, including homes in Gerritsen Beach, according to a report by The New York Times.

The homes slated for destruction, numbering close to 200, were deemed a danger to public safety due to excessive damage. In addition to the 200 homes designated for bulldozing, 200 other homes, completely destroyed by Sandy, will also be cleared away in the coming weeks.

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), headed by Commissioner Robert L. LiMandri, has already inspected more than 80,000 buildings in the wake of Sandy’s devastation. So far 891 homes have been declared unsafe to enter.

The Times article emphasizes the heavy emotional cost expected from the forced destruction of homes that have been with families for several generations.

“I mean, look, a lot of these are people’s homes that, probably, they may have even grown up in it, and it was their father’s house,” LiMandri told The Times. “I mean, that’s the kind of communities we’re talking about.”

Another serious issue arising from the planned bulldozing is what will become of the communities ravaged by the storm, and if it will even be worth rebuilding. According to The Times:

No decisions have been made about rebuilding in the storm-battered areas — a complicated question that would involve not only homeowners, but also insurers and officials in the state, local and federal governments. Some of the houses that are being torn down were built more than a half-century ago as summer bungalows, then winterized and expanded. Current building codes would likely prohibit reconstruction of similar homes.

The DOB is also sensitive to the fact that many of the evicted residents with homes that are slated to be torn down are difficult to reach due to them being forced to live with friends, in shelters, or in hotels. The department has sent out staff to track down displaced residents to let them know the status of their soon-to- be demolished homes. Even still, the shock of being forced to lose a home they grew up in will be another blow to the people most devastated by Hurricane Sandy.


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