LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Several balconies collapsed at an apartment building in Long Beach, Long Island and emergency crews are now trying to determine whether the residence is structurally safe.
It happened just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at a three-story residential building on Shore Road near Long Beach Boulevard.
“I heard all this noise, and it sounded like the garbage man was just having a really hard time,” one neighbor who lives across the street from the apartment told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “So I went to the window and then it [the apartment balcony] started to collapse.”
“All I could see was brick coming down,” building resident Dianna Carroll said.
Police said five balconies collapsed.
The largest pile of rubble sits on top of Christiana Baggie’s first-floor terrace, where she had been standing only moments before her friend called her inside.
“I just heard the rumble, right after he said let’s not go out there. I was out on my veranda and then I just heard the huge crash and then I screamed and we ran and I just saw my windows get dark and everything just kept coming down,” Baggie told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
Long Beach Fire Chief Robert Tuccillo suspects age and corrosion from the salt air caused the balcony to come crashing down, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
“The way it seems the middle balcony may have given and then the top came down,” Tucillo said. “The steel is completely gone; there’s really nothing left of the steel that was there. That’s how rotten it was and decayed.”
Tuccillo says it will be up to an engineer to inspect the building and determine a true cause of collapse.
“This I’m sure is gonna raise some eyebrows to start looking at these older buildings a little more in depth,” Tuccillo said. “Because we had this happen a few years ago just down the block, we had a few people on a patio and it came down. Thank god no one was seriously hurt.”
Building residents said some of the balconies have been unstable for months and they blame the inspection process and the landlord for neglecting to address the problem fast enough.
“He told me a week ago not to go on my balcony. He knew. He knew for a very long time about it,” said resident Patricia McNulty, who recently took pictures of her patio, showing pieces of brick missing and a large crack in the concrete slabs.
The landlord hired a contractor to come out to repoint the brick, but they had only gotten as far as putting up scaffolding last week, Burrell reported.
“I texted him this morning and told him the workers have to do it today or it’s going to collapse. Thirty minutes later, it collapsed,” McNulty said.
When asked about the residents’ ongoing concerns, the city’s building inspector Rich Schuh said, “We’re not gonna answer any questions until we have a structural engineer on site and coordinate with him.”
The building inspector said the landlord is on the scene and cooperating with the investigation.
Families were not allowed back in to the building Tuesday night. The American Red Cross met with 21 families, and provided them with funds for hotel and food.
Crews are trying to determine whether the apartments inside are stable enough for families to return.
No injuries have been reported.