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Contractor: ‘My careless workers caused Sandy-damaged home to topple’

Build it back, again: A home being lifted under Build It Back collapsed on June 22.
Brooklyn Daily
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This time, it didn’t take a hurricane.

A Gerritsen Beach house collapsed yesterday when contractors for the city’s struggling Build It Back storm-recovery program didn’t follow safety procedures, officials said. Now the construction company, which is responsible for repairing and elevating hundreds of Brooklyn homes, has halted work borough-wide to do inspections, its chief executive said.

“Unfortunat­ely today, work that was not scheduled to be done was done. The safety people that were supposed to have been there were not there … that obviously is a problem,” said Luis Tormenta of Long Island-based contractor LiRos Group, which has a $275-million contract with the city-run, federally funded Build It Back to fix more than 600 hurricane-damaged Brooklyn homes.

The second floor of a two-story house at 70 Beacon Ct. toppled on June 22 — just one day after workers set it atop the rest of the structure, a Build It Back spokesman said.

The program has been ramping up repair efforts recently to make good on Mayor DeBlasio’s promise to fix all participating homes by the end of the year — a goal he will almost certainly not reach, because construction takes three to six months and has yet to begin in sections of Sheepshead Bay, where the city must hammer out a deal with residents on streets it does not provide with sewer service.

But work has sped along recently in Gerritsen Beach — so much that some residents complained Build It Back was doing too much, an unheard-of gripe about the notoriously slow program.

The home’s collapse is a blow to the city, which considered the neighborhood’s reconstruction pace a success story, program director Amy Peterson told a previously scheduled town hall in Gerritsen Beach.

“I obviously planned to come here and give you a good speech about all the progress we’re making, because Gerritsen Beach is actually ahead of all the other neighborhoods in terms of the homes moving forward,” she said. “But obviously, it’s very serious what happened in your neighborhood today.”

The collapse did not damage any other homes or utilities and no one was hurt, but neighbors should close their windows to avoid dust following last night’s demolition, officials said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 12:03 pm, June 23, 2016
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Reader feedback

Alex from Gerritsen Beach says:
So much for halting work in Gerritsen Beach... This morning at 7am workers were back at our neighbor's Build it Back house with a cement truck pouring foundation.
Outrageous!
Its a full 2 story house 10ft from our house, raised 10ft off the ground. If this happens to this house, they'd demolish their and OUR houses.
I wish they'd just close the program, give money to homeowners to relocate instead. Gerritsen Beach is dying...
June 23, 2016, 8:19 am
anonymous from Gerritsen Beach says:
First off, 3-6 month to lift a house would be how long it would take if the NYC DOB didn't hold up projects. Many times our project was on hold awaiting inspections, sometimes for weeks. Our project took 8 months. Also I don't believe anything anyone from the LIRO Group says as they lied to me in EVERY meeting we had with them. Just before we moved in I had a face to face outside my house with a LIRO rep whom told me my boiler was working fine as we were planning to move in. He had "just tested it". I walked in less than 30 seconds later to see it wasn't working which I expected at this point after being lied to so often by LIRO.
June 23, 2016, 9:38 am
Anonymous from Gerritsen beach says:
Build it back has been a nightmare. Our neighbor has been out of his home since October and his home is nowhere near done. He is an old and disabled veteran who should be home with people who know him, care, and can help him but he is not. They are very messy and never clean up at the end of the day. There are always nails and dirt in the street. Every time a new dumpster is brought they block our driveway and we have to wait hours for them to come back so we can get our cars out. 311 does nothing to help. The entire program is unorganized and work is being done carelessly. This has been torture for all surrounding homes.
June 23, 2016, 10:05 am
adratos from bath beach says:
all the homeowner should have been forced to take a buy out, and all the land in these flood prone neighborhoods should have been given back to mother nature.
June 23, 2016, 1:54 pm
Mary Evans from Gerritsen Beach says:
adratos. if the first place this area has NEVER before had any major issues with flooding. My husband lived here since he was three.how dare you tell us we should move out of a neighborhood we love. The fault lies with the typical city incompetence in running anything! they use subpar contractors with little or no oversight. Delay upon delay caused by various reasons while people are relocated. and then they jump in and start too many houses at the same time..insanity!
June 23, 2016, 2:32 pm
Sam from Gerritsen Beach says:
Fast? Really? My house was structurally unsound and I haven't lived in it since Sandy. I've been paying all the house expenses for the past three-and-a-half years while also paying rent where I'm at now. Demolition hasn't even started on my house, and you say this is fast?
June 23, 2016, 8:36 pm
I have seen it all from Gerritsen beach says:
They are putting houses up too many at a time and then the house seats there for months as all the rain washes away the dirt the foundation is no good to begin with its all mash land that has been back filled many years ago...plus the non union workers that have no safety training no OSHA cards and at lunch time they are up in front of the stores drinking beers
June 27, 2016, 6 am
richard from garritsen beach says:
the beach is nothing but a rat hole burn it down
Aug. 24, 2016, 1:50 pm
Jolly from Gerritsen Beach says:
Contractors passing stop signs their equipment blocking fire hydrant build it back knows about this and does nothing about it damage to my home from the vibration of heavy equipment streets cracked destroyed buy heavy equipment water mains and sewers some are leaking from heavy vibration of heavy equipment going past terrible situation these contractors are out of control
Oct. 9, 2016, 12:48 pm
Working man from Gerritsen beach says:
I can't believe the hate that we harbor for each other,every one is complaining,but not a dime out of anyone's pocket to repair our 100 year old bungalows.i for one am grateful for having my home elevated,thank you Amy Peterson for your dedication to cause.the rest of you that did not wait on the line ,you have no right to complain that we are getting what you were to lazy to work for.stop the hate ,it's all our community.
April 7, 2017, 6:45 am

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