Tragedy struck New York City as Hurricane Ida led to the death of several residents in illegally converted cellar apartments. City officials mentioned that several homes which were destroyed by the Hurricane were converted into basement and cellar apartments. An analysis that was conducted after the massive flooding of Wednesday highlighted that around five of the six structures destroyed were illegal.
Incidentally, they were also the location for the 10 of the victims found. The analysis was done by the city buildings department, with one of the victims including a 2-year-old boy who was found dead in a makeshift home with his parents.
New York City Tragedy: 13 Killed By Hurricane Ida Flooding
Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, mentioned in his briefing on Friday that the basement apartments created an entire nest of challenges and issues. Henceforth, the civic authorities would make a point to speak to people who have been living in basement apartments about the vulnerabilities they face during events such as these. There would be target cell phone alerts as well as messages which would highlight the same point.
According to the buildings department in New York City, illegal conversions have been defined as the creation of an additional room that was constructed with the necessary permits from city officials. Such rooms usually have a few common characteristics- like no escape route in the case of emergencies, shoddy electrical and gas work, pretty substandard construction in areas with very little light or ventilation.
Annetta Seecharran, the executive director for the Chhaya Community Development Corporation- a housing advocacy group for New York City- has stated that people who usually live in such illegal basements usually did so because they wouldn’t be able to afford other more expensive options.