News

Home Demolitions Begin In Sandy-Ravaged Staten Island Neighborhood

Many Unable To Bear The Sight Of Memories Being Bulldozed Away In Minutes
A home damaged by superstorm Sandy is demolished in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island - Jan. 14, 2013 (credit: Alex Silverman / WCBS 880)

A home damaged by superstorm Sandy is demolished in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island – Jan. 14, 2013 (credit: Alex Silverman / WCBS 880)

Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – They’ve known it was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier for some people on Staten Island who watched the city tear down their homes on Monday.

At one house, it took all of 20 minutes for a set of steel jaws to finish what Superstorm Sandy started in the Ocean Breeze neighborhood.

Its owner couldn’t bear to be there.

“He’s very broken up about it,” said Richard Quinn, who lives across the street. “I can remember playing in this house. The next one they’re going to knock down, too. You know, they’ve lived here all of their lives.”

“The neighborhood is changing now,” said Mickey Merrell, who grew up in a little brown house nearby.

When asked what was going through her mind as the home was taken down, the woman told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman, “You know, it’s just so sad. You know, my memories and stuff.”

She has been living in Texas since the storm.

“We didn’t want her to come and see,” Merrill said. “I don’t have words. It’s so sad.”

“It hurts. It hurts. There’s a lot of memories going down right now,” Ray Weiler told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa as he watched the home on Quincy Street, in which he grew up with his five sisters brothers, be torn down.

The house was located one block from the shore and it was beyond repair, flooded up to the roof.

“I’m devastated. Devastated. I’m heartbroken for my sister and mom who doesn’t have no place to come back to,” Weiler told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

“I’m not good with this. I mean this is my childhood. I moved in there when I was 4 years old. I grew up in this neighborhood,” Weiler’s sister, Ronnie Loesch, said.

The Weiler family watches as their home is torn down in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island - Jan. 14, 2013 (credit: Juliet Papa / 1010 WINS)

The Weiler family watches as their home is torn down in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island – Jan. 14, 2013 (credit: Juliet Papa / 1010 WINS)

Life-long friend Vinny Tovello watched with tears in his eyes.

“We grew up as little kids together,” he said.

The October storm that flooded homes, shifted some off their foundations. The city issued some 7,500 red tags for homes that can no longer be occupied and as many as 300 will be torn down.

Many owners are still awaiting payment from insurance companies.

“They sent two insurance adjusters and engineers, but they’re not sending money. We need money to rebuild,” Weiler said.

The remains of the Weiler family home in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island - Jan 14. 2013 (credit: Juliet Papa / 1010 WINS)

The remains of the Weiler family home in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island – Jan 14. 2013 (credit: Juliet Papa / 1010 WINS)

There were some watching who actually wanted closure from the bulldozer.

“They has us all like excited. We got a contractor, architect,” said Jean Laurie, who is ready to rebuild. But she said she was taken off the demolition list. “No answers as usual. Nothing.”

One resident, however, compared the scene to a funeral.

The city offered counseling to those whose homes are being raised, to ease the pain of the loss and prepare them for their permanent move.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …