THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — Cleanup is underway at an apartment building in the Bronx where a retaining wall collapsed due to this weekend’s heavy rainfall, forcing 200 residents to evacuate.
The New York City Department of Buildings initially issued a partial vacate order for the first-floor apartments at the building on Valentine Avenue in the Bronx, after a retaining wall that runs through its backyard came crashing down under the weight of the rain.
“No, I can’t live here right now. I’m feeling bad. I don’t have a house. I don’t know what can I do. Right now I’m staying in the hotel,” said Tracey De La Cruz.
The 200 tenants who live in the six-story building were evacuated Sunday and waited for hours during the downpour for help from the Red Cross. Officials with the Department of Buildings said they first issued the order for five apartments on the ground floor because they were closest to the collapse. But due to structural damage the rear wall and a fallen tree, they expanded the vacate order to include apartments in floors two through six and issued a partial vacate order for several properties behind the building on Ryer Avenue.
“It was like a little thump. I thought it was my building, so I said what was that,” said Jaime Ortiz.
The relentless rain caused havoc across the tri-state region over the weekend, knocking down trees, flooding streets and inundating roadways, leaving some drivers on Long Island stranded.
“We had to crawl out our car window and called 911. For an hour no one came,” said one driver.
Back on Valentine Avenue, some who live in the area with many older buildings say it is time to get in front of the problem.
“This retainer, which has no reinforcement, is accumulating water and it had no drainage,” Ortiz said.
Department of Buildings officials said they have a team of engineers working with the property owner to ensure it’s safe, and they will be back there to review the repair work throughout the week.