2005-07-01 / Front Page

Made Homeless By Falling Crane

By Howard Schwach

An off-kilter construction crane from Presco Industries lies on 209 Beach 99 Street after an accident that left a family homeless.Photo by Karen CarrAn off-kilter construction crane from Presco Industries lies on 209 Beach 99 Street after an accident that left a family homeless.Photo by Karen Carr Alicia Adams and her husband, Peter, are homeless this week, something they never would have foreseen until last Friday, when a construction crane fell on their residence.

Alicia was still in her pajamas, going through her morning routine when, she says, she heard a strange sound from the downstairs apartment she and Peter rent at 209 Beach 99 Street in Rockaway Beach.

“The house rumbled,” she recalled.

Contractors for Presco Industries in Brooklyn had been demolishing the neighboring house 211 Beach 99 Street for most of the month, and her first thought was that the workers had started earlier than usual.

Hearing a loud banging on her door, she looked out and saw a firefighter at her door. He ordered her to get out of her home and waited while she quickly put on clothing.

“They gave me 10 minutes to get everything I could carry out of my home,” she told The Wave in an interview from the Brooklyn Marriott, where she and her husband found refuge. “We had to stuff everything into black garbage bags and the people here at hotel who checked us in looked at us suspiciously. It was very embarrassing.”

“It was tough to figure out what to grab,” she says with a laugh. “What do you take first?”

Alicia says that the permit issued by the city’s Department of Buildings called for demolition of the structure next door by hand because of the proximity of other homes. She argues that the developer violated that permit.

Mark Einman, the President of Presco, however, said that his company had all the right permits and did not violate them in any way.

“We took off the top of the house by hand,” he said. “We only brought in the machinery to clean up the site after the demolition was done.”

He says that one of the crane’s treads “slipped into the basement of the building,” causing the hulking piece of machinery to topple over into the house next door as its operator was trying to free it.

Einman said that his workmen came back on Monday simply “to remove the equipment from the site.”

Alicia says, however, that Presco‘s workmen began work anew on Monday despite a stop work order by the Department of Buildings. She said that the company’s foreman was “rude” to her and her husband when they asked him to stop working.

The Department of Buildings confirmed that there is a stop work order at the site, but would not comment on whether or not the company was actually working on Monday.

Alicia said that the owner brought in an engineer on Tuesday to survey the home. The engineer reportedly said that the building was “structurally sound,” but the Department of Buildings has to certify the buildings safety before the family can move back in.

Although traumatized by the event, Alicia said that everybody involved, from the firefighters and police who originally responded, to City Councilman Joseph Addabbo’s office to her neighbors were “wonderful.”

For now, she and her husband come back to Rockaway each day to make sure the house is safe.

“The Department of Buildings did not even secure the site,” she says. “We just want it to remain safe until we can move back in.”

A spokesperson at the scene said that a determination whether there would be any fines levied on the construction company in light of the accident would come at a later time.

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