Displaced Queens residents want answers

July 30, 2008 2:57:11 PM PDT
Residents in Queens are growing more and more frustrated each day they are shut out of their building. Last week, an explosion at the building in Flushing damaged dozens of apartments. Since then, many people haven't been allowed back in, even to get their medicines.Some of the building's residents feel like they are getting the cold shoulder from city agencies. Five days after the blast, some say they haven't had adequate access to their apartments. But their greatest concern is that family belongings are being tossed out against their wishes.

On Wednesday, a group of frustrated residents and community leaders gathered in front of the building to express their anger.

"It's been five long days for these residents," City Councilman John Liu said. "They don't know when they'll be able to go home, if ever."

The gas explosion damaged 37 apartments and injured 17 people, two of them critically. One day after the blast, some of the residents went back into the building to grab some of their valuables.

But five days after the explosion, some residents feel the city isn't doing enough to keep them informed or to help them recover precious valuables. They say officials can't account for items that have been tossed into a dumpster.

"Despite repeated requests on Saturday and Sunday, I was not given access to my apartment," one resident said.

For others, it is more important that they locate their wallets or even medical supplies left behind.

One man says he hasn't been able to get an important brace for his wife.

"She cannot walk, and if I order a brace for her, I don't have a credit card, I don't have any cash, I don't have my license," he said. "Even if they expedite the process, it would be a month before my wife can get her brace."

"Don't take their stuff away without letting them know what's going on," Liu said. "That's not right."

A source in city government says that some residents will be escorted into the building to get some of their valuables Wednesday night. He says the problem at the explosion site is asbestos.

Some of the apartments in the building have been impacted by it, and as a result, some valuables will be lost. Contractors have been instructed to take great care in salvaging as much as they can.


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Pegues