About a month ago, Emanuel Kerns noticed a troop of construction workers entering the decrepit building next door to his home in Brownsville.
Kerns had lived next to 1916 Prospect Place in the Weeksville section of this Brooklyn neighborhood for four years. He, along with other longtime neighbors, knew that the building was unsound, and he wanted to warn the workers, the Daily News reported.
“I remember telling them, ‘Be careful, because the building is unstable.'”
Before long, he saw one of the workers stumble from the house to the work truck parked on the street, where he pulled out his cell phone. Firemen showed up and began to extract people from the building. At least one man was bleeding from the head; several were carried away on gurneys.
New Year, New Collapse
Building collapses seem to happen at least once a year in Brooklyn — not only in marginal neighborhoods like Canarsie and Bay Ridge, but also in gentrified communities like Williamsburg and Park Slope.
The epidemic is a target for half-joking/half-serious commentary on many local blogs. Only a few months ago, Bushwick Daily posted “Do You Know How to Make Sure Your House Isn’t Collapsing?,” a checklist to help apartment-hunters avoid a situation like that of Preston Pujol, who had to evacuate his apartment only three days after moving in, on account of the building’s imminent collapse.
The Price of Improvement
As rents around the five boroughs climb, property owners are increasingly motivated to do renovations. But such work poses a threat to the very people hired to carry it out. Only last September, five construction workers were injured in a similar building collapse in Fort Greene. They were working on renovations when the third floor suddenly gave way. One of the workers was killed in the fall.
As for the building in Brownsville, last week was the first time in recent memory that anyone had entered it. OSHA inspectors and firemen confirm that while the workers were going about their demo work on the first floor, the third floor caved in. Rubble rained down onto the crew, one of whom managed to stumble out and call 911.
Neighbor Leslie Barker was not surprised by any of it:
“It’s not stable in there. You can tell this building is going to fall — I just don’t want it to fall on ours.”
As of now, the Buildings Department has shut down the work site.
Get the Help You Need
In cases of building collapse and other construction accidents, the cost is much greater than physical injury. It means time taken off work, recuperating your health and the task of finding out how the accident took place. If you or your loved one have been the victim of a construction accident, contact the legal experts at The Oshman Firm to help you get justice. While we can’t change the situation, we can help make sure that you receive the resources you deserve to recover. Call us at 1.800.400.8182 or fill out the form on the right side of this page.
Photo credit: The Daily News