Even as neighbors of a mother and son from Queens, New York, who died in the devastating flash flood cased by Ida that hit the financial capital of the United States earlier in the week, gathered to lay flowers, authorities of the city claimed that 43-year-old woman and her 22-year-old son died in basement unit that had bene illegally converted.
“Nothing could prepare you for this. We’ve been living here for so many years, and we never expected this.” one of the mourners was quoted as saying in a report published by NBC.
According to the Department of Buildings, New York, there were illegally converted basements in five of the six buildings in which New Yorkers died.
DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said: “Our team is tirelessly conducting research at over a thousand properties across the five boroughs in the aftermath of Wednesday’s storm, and we’ll continue doing everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe in their residences.”
On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his plan at the NYC Climate Response which included setting up of a task force, more warnings, and an increased focus on helping families living in basement apartments.
One of the primary focuses of the city and state is not to have to move from door-to-door for evacuating residents on a regular basis – with special emphasis on the basement-dwelling people, as officials prepare for the next Ida-level event.
For example, Chhaya CDC Executive Director Annetta Seecharan, who is a housing advocate, called for a city-wide basement apartment conversion program.
Seecharran said: “What needs to happen, immediately, is the city needs to move toward a city-wide program that incentivizes, and again that doesn’t penalize, to bring these apartments up to code quickly.” “It wouldn’t prevent the climate disaster, but when the next climate disaster happens, people can escape.”