NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – More streets opened up and nine buildings were cleared for re-occupancy Sunday as hazardous debris cleanup continued in the area around Thursday’s steam pipe explosion in the Flatiron district.
Many people evacuated were happy to return home for the start of the work week, while others wondered about when they’d be allowed back and how they’d be compensated for their displacement.
Firefighters sprayed the facades of buildings along Fifth Avenue to wash off any asbestos from the steam-pipe explosion earlier this week, and many tenants are now allowed to return to their homes. The Department of Environmental Protection and NYC Health Department are conducting the interior investigations.
The blast near 21st Street and Fifth Avenue sent asbestos-filled steam and pieces of the pipe flying.
Mayor’s spokesperson Eric Phillips tweeted Sunday that “on compensation from ConEd for displaced steam pipe explosion residents, the Mayor agrees that $500 will likely not be good enough. We’ll be pushing ConEd to up that payment.”
The utility company said the $500 “doesn’t preclude anyone from submitting a claim for other related expenses.”
“It was to provide immediate help to those who were displaced,” ConEd tweeted on Sunday, adding company representatives would be made available at the Clinton School on East 15th Street to meet with people.
On Sunday, city officials reported 18th, 19th, and 22nd Streets were again open to pedestrian and street traffic, while 20th Street was only reopened to residents.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said there was progress, but it shouldn’t be rushed if it meant compromising anyone’s safety.
“I want to make sure it’s done correctly,” she said. “I know it’s really hard when you’re out of your home and your business but you don’t wanna be sick.”
Crews on Saturday collected the water and filtered it before releasing it into catch basins. The difficult cleanup was made even riskier by the heavy rains. Workers used sandbags to line the contaminated area in hopes of preventing dangerous material from seeping out into storm sewers.
The city is providing live updates as buildings are cleared for reoccupation. A community briefing is scheduled for Monday night for neighbors affected by the steam main break. For more information, visit the city’s website.