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Sandy Victims’ Latest Reason For Concern? Red-Tagged Homes

Staten Island Woman Can't Return To Her House Because Of Her Neighbor; DOB To Make Repairs
If you have one of these on your home you are not allowed to move back in, says the NYC Department of Buildings. (Photo: CBS 2)

If you have one of these on your home you are not allowed to move back in, says the NYC Department of Buildings. (Photo: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s not just storm damage that’s keeping one Staten Island woman out of her house. Her neighbor’s home was hit even harder by Superstorm Sandy and is stalling efforts to make repairs.

Veronica Skibinski, who is staying with her sister, has been out of her storm-damaged house for six weeks.

“I’m living under such pressure. I wake up at night wondering what’s going on. I’m the last one to bed. I’m the first one up,” Skibinski told CBS 2’s John Slattery on Tuesday.

On Nov. 8, her two-family home was issued a yellow tag, allowing repairs. But two weeks later came an ominous red-tag warning the building next door could tip over.

“If it collapses, it’s like having a gun pointed at your head and just waiting for someone to pull the trigger,” Skibinski said.

She said her problem is because the red-tagged house next door has suffered such tremendous erosion damage the two houses are leaning into each other.

There is some erosion under Skibinski’s home, so it needs foundation work, but the bulk of the erosion is under her neighbor’s home. She said she’s spoken to him by phone.

“All he tells me is he knows nothing,” Skibinski said.

Despite the red signs on her door, Skibinski already has a contractor inside abating mold.

The Buildings Department said either way the home will be fixed.

“These buildings need to be structurally reinforced before they can be reoccupied. In the event, where owners are unwilling or unable to make the necessary repairs, the city will step in and make them,” spokesman Ryan Fitzgibbon said.

Fitzgibbon further stressed that, unlike most instances in which the Department of Buildings does repairs and then bills the homeowner, that is not the case in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Because the storm damage was not the fault of the owner, the DOB, in these cases, will pay for the repairs and not bill the property owner.

Until there is a resolution, Skibinski said she will remain displaced, and she doesn’t know for how long.

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