Workers continue to tear down the collapsed Financial District parking garage Thursday morning, hours after emergency personnel removed a dead victim from the rubble.
Large diggers are chipping away at 57 Ann St. and removing an array of ruined vehicles from the rubble as part of the “controlled demolition” operation. Each totaled automobile is being searched for remains before being hauled onto a flatbed truck and driven away.
Much of the garage’s front exterior has been removed by workmen, reclaiming about 10 cars which teetered on the edge. However, there is still much more work to be done with the Mayor’s Office estimating the building stored approximately 80-90 cars on the roof and within the garage.
“There’s over 50 cars on the roof. The building is not structurally sound. You think about hazardous materials that are in the garage. Gas tanks, fluids, further complicated by the fact that there are possibly some electric vehicles in that garage. So, there’s a remarkable operation that is starting now,” New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said.
Chad Scott, a Financial District resident, who often parked his car in the garage told amNewYork Metro that the building was not only in disrepair, but it was always overloaded with vehicles to the point staff would often shuffle around vehicles to make room.
The demolition is being performed under the direct supervision of a private engineer and under the oversight of the Department of Buildings (DOB) and FDNY and is expected to last several days. The air in the surrounding area is also being monitored for asbestos and while traces have been found, the city is reporting that it has been identified below limits set by New York State and New York City.
The ongoing investigation by the DOB has found that the roof, third floor, and second floor all collapsed into the center of the building while the rear wall also partially collapsed, and the front wall of the building appears to be bulging. DOB investigations likewise determined that the building was in danger of collapsing further, prompting the immediate demolition.
While the exact cause of deadly structural failure is still being determined, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine postulated that the sheer amount of vehicles stored inside the aging facility could have contributed to the disaster. This combined with the weight of the newer manufactured cars and vans has New Yorkers wondering if the tragedy could have been prevented.
“We are living in a new environment, and we have to constantly analyze and upgrade everything from weight capacity to how many cars can be there. And that is all part of this investigation,” Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday. “If there needs to be immediate actions with existing garages, then we have to take that immediate action. The investigation is early.”
Prior to the collapse, DOB has records of four open violations by the Office of Administrative Trials Hearing (OATH)/Environmental Control Board issued by DOB, at 57 Ann St. and an array of past violations dating back to 2003. However, DOB did not receive a parking structure inspection report from the owner of 57 Ann St. prior to the collapse since the deadline for their report is the end of 2023.
The victim who lost their life was reportedly pulled from the rubble late on April 19 and although officials have yet to officially name the deceased who lost their life during the collapse, several locals told amNewYork Metro that it was the garage manager. Additionally, a police source shared that the person was a father of an active member of service.
Emergency services are requesting New Yorkers stay clear of the area during the demolition process while those evacuated are being temporarily re-housed by the Red Cross.