Some Bronx residents of collapsed building allowed get pets, belongings left inside

The collapse happened at a seven-story occupied building at 1915 Billingsley Terrace in Morris Heights, the Bronx on Monday.
Thursday, December 14, 2023
MORRIS HEIGHTS, Bronx (WABC) -- Residents of the building that partially collapsed in the Bronx this week have been anxiously waiting to reenter their homes, and on Thursday evening, they were finally given the green light.

The Department of Buildings said Thursday that critical shoring and lighting work was completed, so tenants who lived in the south wing of the building were escorted into their apartments to retrieve personal belongings.

Some 150 residents displaced by the building collapse needed critical items from their homes -- and some were even still waiting to get their pets.

Those important belongings include essentials, such as passports, birth certificates, clothes, jewelry, and medicine.

Resident Diana Martinez said she wanted to get back in just for one thing: her kids' clothes. On Thursday night, she was able to get back in for the clothes and some toys, but her furniture and so much more is still there.

Displaced resident Norma Arias said she needed to get in so she could retrieve her oxygen machine.

It's not clear yet when families will be allowed to get larger items.

The building collapsed partially Monday afternoon. Surveillance video from an MTA bus showed the sudden and frightening moment.

The collapse prompted a desperate search for life in the rubble, which fortunately found no one trapped underneath.

It's still not known why the collapse happened, but records show there were facade repair plans in place for March of 2021, originally postponed due to COVID, and despite getting a permit this year, still hadn't been fixed.
SLOW MOTION: Taking a closer look at the Bronx building collapse

Plus, residents had submitted numerous other complaints. There were more than 100 open building violations, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

City officials say they will be looking into changing some oversight policies. The residents want the building owners held accountable.

The Bronx District Attorney's Office opened an investigation into what happened and an assistant prosecutor visited the site to determine if the landlords will face any criminal liability.

The Department of Buildings said it is in communication with the landlord and told them they have to seal off the damaged part of the building once the demolition is done.

Many of the tenants say the Red Cross has been helpful but their hotel stay expires Friday, and they are unsure where they will go next.

"The only thing they tell us is to be patient, but we don't have patience right now," one tenant said.

ALSO READ | Engineer warned of 'unsafe' facade at Morris Heights partially collapsed building
2020 report found cracks, other concerns about partially collapsed building in Bronx

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