Hurricane SandyMany NYC buildings to remain closed for weeks, months for clean-up, repairs

Published 6 November 2012

Water and winds produced by Hurricane Sandy destroyed mechanical and electrical systems in many commercial and residential buildings in Lower Manhattan; as a result, many buildings in the area are weeks or months away from being repaired and fully operational

Water and winds produced by Hurricane Sandy destroyed mechanical and electrical systems in many commercial and residential buildings in Lower Manhattan. As a result, many buildings in the area are weeks or months away from being repaired and fully operational.

Several occupants have been informed they cannot return to their buildings until Thanksgiving, while others found out it could take until early next year or even later before they can return.

For most of these buildings, the full extent of the damage has not been assessed as owners are still pumping out water, some of which are contaminated by toxins.

The New York Times reports that a disaster recovery company official said it could take months to reopen a building at 125 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. According to the official the building was flooded and now needs new transformers, boilers, and other equipment.

Tenants of the building include UNICEF and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Samuel Norich, the publisher of the Jewish Daily Forward, has offices on the eighth floor of the building and was allowed into the building for a brief period to retrieve hard drives and files. Building management told him that nearly eight million gallons has been pumped out of the basement.

“We had prepared for an emergency,” Norich told the Times. “The emergency we had prepared for was an act of terrorism, not this.”

Well-known companies such as J. P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Oppenheimer & Company, Sullivan & Cromwell, Standard & Poor’s, and the New York Daily News are now searching for temporary leases around the city.

People unable to get into their apartments in the area are now leaning on friends and relatives as well as contemplating short-term sublets. At 200 Water Street residents were told the building would not be fully operational for at least two weeks, and that was an optimistic estimate.

“Some of the buildings will clearly not be able to let people in, simply because of the damage to the equipment,” Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York told the Times. “I’ve heard that it could be a number of weeks in some cases.”

Most of these buildings contain underground parking lots, and because many vehicles were submerged during Hurricane Sandy, gasoline and other harmful chemicals contaminated the water, meaning that special cleanups will be needed before residents can be allowed back into the buildings.

Brookfield Office Properties, which operates One New York Plaza, estimated that it could take between three and six weeks before the building reopens.

At 33 Beaver street, a city official reported electrical systems that were destroyed in the storm could take between four and six weeks to be repaired. The Department of Probation, Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and the Department of Homeless Services have offices at the location.

The Department of Buildings has told all real estate owners in New York’s mandatory evacuation zones that reoccupation is not permitted until the department inspects a building and a green approval sticker is issued. Approval will be granted to a building if it has power and a licensed professional engineer or registered architect submits a report which confirms its safety.

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