YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mudslide last month sent tons of mud and rocks downhill toward a Yonkers public housing tower, and hopes for a quick fix have now collapsed too.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Friday, the 100 seniors and people with disabilities who live in the William Walsh Houses will have to move permanently.
On March 11, a 150-year-old aqueduct retaining wall collapsed. The wall collapse and mudslide brought a major emergency response from Yonkers. Firefighters built a brace in the lobby to keep the glass from collapsing, as more than 2 feet of mud against the rear.
Some six weeks later, mud, rock and tree roots remained tangled behind the building with a blue tarp that covers the danger visually, but cannot conceal it.
The plan to shore up the wall until it could be fixed permanently has been rejected by engineers.
“The threat from above was just too significant that an interim wall wouldn’t do it so basically we can’t reoccupy the building until the retaining wall is fixed and since that will take several months we’re really forced to permanently relocate the residents,” Joseph Shuldiner of the Yonkers Housing Authority said.
Resident Henry Fields, 85, said the last five weeks in temporary housing have been disruptive.
“All my stuff is still up there,” he said. “It’s terrible because I think at my age if I can get through this I’ll be lucky.”
Some residents will get Section 8 vouchers for new housing, while others– including Fields– will move into a building at 33 Ashburton Ave., but it won’t be ready until May.
“It’s unbearable for me because it’s the stress and it’s taken a lot out of me,” Fields said.
About 80 percent of the displaced residents have been staying at a local hotel. Residents said the hotel is comfortable, but far from ideal.
“It’s not easy when you’re not at home, you know?” said resident Pedro Guilarte. “When you miss what you have, and you have to be in a place like that – you can’t cook, you can’t do nothing.”
The bills for temporary housing, transporting residents, and relocating them, add up to around $600,000.
The city will be asking the State of New York to pay for its emergency response, since the state is responsible for the Old Croton Aqueduct wall that collapsed.
Complete repairs will drag into next year.
The City of Yonkers hopes to have all the displaced residents into their homes by June.
Engineers believe a leaky water pipe in the neighborhood above the aqueduct retaining wall caused it to collapse. Melting snow in March may also have been a factor.