For Immediate Release: September 2, 2021
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DOB ADVISES NEW YORKERS AFTER HISTORIC CITYWIDE FLOODING
New York, NY - The Department of Buildings today is advising building owners and property managers to take added precautions when surveying damage at their properties, after historic and deadly floods inundated neighborhoods across the city overnight. Heavy flooding conditions have the potential to cause structural damage, undermining concerns, hazardous mold, and deterioration of building electrical and gas plumbing systems, which can all pose a serious hazard to New Yorkers entering flood-damaged buildings.
“While the worst of the flooding has thankfully subsided, that doesn’t mean that the potential for hazards is over,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “Flood-damaged buildings can still pose a serious danger to New Yorkers. Take precautions, and if you spot any unsafe conditions, report it immediately.”
Building owners and property managers are advised:
- Check your property for any structural stability issues or unsafe conditions due to flooding, and contact the Department of Buildings by calling 311 if there are concerns. For building-related emergencies call 911.
- When surveying flood damage in a building look out for mold, any newly formed cracks along the wall, and signs of foundation damage including bulging walls.
- Heavy flooding can have a significant effect on the structural stability of outdoor structures such as decks, porches and retaining walls. Take extra precaution near these outdoor structures, due to the potential for collapse.
- Flooding can also cause the soil around buildings to shift. Be cautious of sink holes forming on your property, especially near septic systems. Avoid areas around large trees if the surrounding soil is soft.
- Do not wade into standing flood water in basements and cellars to survey damage. The water may be contaminated, contain hazardous debris, or be electrically charged.
- Floods can cause damage to electrical wiring and gas plumbing systems inside of a building, creating an imminent hazard to anyone inside of the building. Extreme caution should be taken if there are concerns that standing water in a building may be electrified. Never attempt to turn off power or operate a circuit breaker while standing in water.
- When investigating and cleaning flood damage in your building, wear gloves, boots, a mask and other protective clothing, to protect yourself from mold and other contaminants.
- If your basement or cellar is flooded, use caution when pumping out the water. Pumping out flood water from a building too quickly could cause serious structural damage. The water must be drained slowly to equalize pressure on both sides of building walls.
- If you need to use a gas-powered generator, never use it indoors. Keep generators outside, away from open windows, and always follow the user instructions in the owner's manual.
- Concerns about drinking water contamination in a building should be reported to 311.
- Extensive repair work in a building may require the services of a registered contractor as well as DOB-issued work permits. Electrical Wiring repairs will require the services of a licensed electrician. Gas plumbing system repairs will require the services of a licensed plumber. Check the license status of these construction professionals here.
- Licensed Master Plumbers performing emergency work to address a hazardous situation, restore essential services, and maintain sanitary conditions, have the ability to file an Emergency Work Notifications with the Department online, allowing them to start repairs immediately with no wait time from DOB. The plumber can then submit the paperwork for any required permits with the Department after the job is already completed.
- Before starting any major repairs at your building, contact a construction professional or the Department of Buildings.
All New Yorkers are encouraged to call 311 to report any unsafe building conditions in their neighborhood. Call 911 for emergencies. For more information about building safety, please visit the Department’s website at www.nyc.gov/buildings.