Cynthia Tibbs is the president of the NYCHA tenant association at the West Side Urban Redevelopment brownstones (WSUR). The ceilings collapsed in three apartments after the torrential rain. This is an NYCHA issue where workers don’t clear all gutters and drains.
Rosemary Waldron woke Friday morning to hear tapping in her apartment. She is a resident of the West Side Urban Redevelopment brownstones. A neighbor told her, “Lady there is water at your front door.”
Three tenants on the same block would have their ceilings collapsed that very day. Cynthia Tibbs was the tenant association’s president of WSUR, a cluster comprised 36 brownstones that are owned by New York City Housing Authority. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she watched as neighbors’ furniture got loaded into a trash truck.
Some of the problems that residents in the West 89th to West 93rd Street apartments faced on Friday, the heaviest rainfall the city had seen in the past two years, could have been prevented.
Tenants claim that clogged drains and gutters caused floods and ceiling leaks. Tibbs stated that “proper protocols would have prevented all of this.” I don’t mind if you use a hanger, but pop up the drain and let the water out.
Waldron reported that she had submitted a ticket to have the drain outside her building unclogged in August. Uncertain if the ticket has been closed or not, Waldron said that workers cleared the drain on Sunday, two days after the flood.
The rainwater was like a swimming pool in the entryway of her building, which has a stoop facing 91st Street. Waldron used to place towels on her front door in previous storms in order to stop the water from seeping in. She had some help this time.
Waldron explained that a neighbor [sweeping] the water out of my house from outside to inside was what saved her. He swept the drain for over an hour before NYCHA came to help. The drain had been unclogged on Sunday.
A roof sloped at 42 West 90th St., a brownstone with seven units nearby. Tibbs reported that the walls of the brownstone were “wet” on Friday morning. Inside, he said one tenant had a giant bubble hanging from the ceiling. Next day the ceiling collapsed.
Tibbs explained: “Imagine you wake up and the ceiling has fallen to the ground. There were crumpled pieces of drywall all over the place. According to photos shared by Tibbs, within an hour two more apartments had ceilings that were partially collapsing. City Limits could not reach tenants to get their comments.
A cleanup crew was on site by Saturday afternoon to remove the drywall from the floors and install plywood.
A spokesperson for NYCHA said in a press release that they responded to the flooding problems across the city caused by Friday’s rain.
NYCHA’s spokesman said in a press release that “NYCHA worked with its city partners tirelessly to reduce flooding at all developments in their portfolio, both during the storm and immediately afterward.” At this point, we continue to deal with the conditions that resulted.
Tenants say that the problems they are facing are systemic. NYCHA stated at a City Council Meeting that a reduction in maintenance staff makes it difficult to finish outstanding tasks.
NYCHA had 604,645 work orders open in June. These included jobs like painting, plastering, and carpentry. These tickets, or work orders as they are called in NYCHA’s terminology, cost $78.3 Billion to repair NYCHA over the next twenty years.
Tibbs and her neighbours have “really established good communication” [with NYCHA] management.
Tibbs stated, “Friday was overwhelming.” All of this could have been dealt with two days earlier, as part of emergency planning. It was known that it would rain on Friday. This isn’t a problem of the mayor. It is not the City Council’s problem. It is an NYCHA issue. “You don’t ensure that your employees have cleared all gutters and drains.”
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