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Where will I live now

Updated on November 17, 2012

The Aftermath

For New Orleans it was Katrina, for New Yorkers its Sandy

Not since the Great Depression of the 1930's have New Yorkers faced such tragic and catastrophic conditions, as the rolls of displaced people and families grows to epic proportions. This gives new meaning to the saying that when it rains it pours. Hundreds of New Yorkers now face the prospect of being homeless after Hurricane Sandy, has ravaged and destroyed their homes and properties that are now being considered unfit for occupancy and possible demolition.

Storm Damaged Areas

Storm damage from fire, rain, wind, and flooding in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and Far Rockaway has left many people and families homeless and without lodging, as the city tries to determine which ones are still salvageable and which ones must be torn down. As many homes and businesses have been red tagged as uninhabitable. Some have already been torn down and many more are soon destined to be demolished. In the days after the storm, architects and engineers have been fanning out through neighborhoods across the city to examine the sections that suffered water and other structural deterioration as a result of the flooding, and fire to determine the actual extent of the damage caused by hurricane Sandy.

Unprecedented Demolitions to Begin

But the number of homes set for demolition is unprecedented for the residents of New York. Some of these homes have been in families for decades passed on from their grandfathers and grandmothers to their sons and daughters since the 1920's, in neighborhoods where tight -knit working-class, middle-class families have grew up and lived for generations. Just as in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina where hundreds of homes had to be torn down, many city officials are asking questions of New Orleans officials, what steps did they take in the wake of such epic disaster and to learn from their experience.

The Unanswered Question

The biggest unanswered question remaining is who will pay for it all. Under normal circumstances home owners are responsible for the costs; current relief programs provide only for funds to help repair damaged homes, not the rebuilding. The present state of both the employment and economic situation does not bode well either for New Yorkers who will now be joining the ranks of the homeless as well.

Reshaping of Neighborhoods

The Buildings Department commissioner, Robert L. LiMandri has said “We’ve never had this scale before, this is what New Yorkers have read about in many other places and have never seen, so it is definitely unprecedented." New York has not faced such a broad reshaping of neighborhoods in many a decade. As over 891 homes have so far been declared as uninhabitable and been red tagged, there are still over 500 more that have yet to be inspected and tagged as to their condition, and more that 200 have already been set to be bulldozed, in addition to 200 houses that already are partially or completely burned down, washed away or otherwise damaged.

Emotional Toll

As the emotional toll kicks in, city officials are trying to proceed with sensitivity as the Buildings Department tries to track down the affected populous and urge them to go to recovery centers and register their damaged homes. A city councilman from Queens Eric A. Ulrich has been quoted as saying “My constituents have been through so much, and they are just so distraught". Many are now living with friends or family or in hotels or shelters barred from entering the houses because they are unsafe. No decisions have been made about rebuilding, a question that would involve homeowners, insurers and officials in the state, local and federal governments.

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