After finding out a little while ago, that the New York City officials had turned away the offers of help and volunteers from the membership of the Structural Engineers Association of New York which was expressed to their membership, dated today – even as the President said to get the job done – I wrote this email to the association –
Hurricane Sandy and the Structural Engineering Community
The response from New York’s engineering, architecture and construction community has been truly overwhelming. SEAoNY, the NYC Department of Buildings, and the residents of areas most affected by the storm are very grateful to you all for your efforts and your enthusiasm. We have been told that at this time, the DOB has adequate resources for continuing the work ahead.
As an update, the DOB is continuing to perform detailed building assessments throughout New York City, particularly those areas hardest hit by the storm. For more information, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/news/storm_update.shtml. We will try to keep our membership and the structural engineering community updated on how they can help. In the meantime, please refer to the DOB website and press office for further information.
Thank you again for your tremendous spirit of volunteerism.
(found here – )
Please reconsider helping Staten Island with Hurricane Sandy aftermath and rebuilding
CricketDiane Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org
10:45 PM (37 minutes ago)
I do understand the Department of Buildings’ and New York City position on not accepting your specialized expertise on matters relating to the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. I do also understand that our President today, said that turf wars must be set aside now and through the building / re-building process. There are overwhelming problems in the boroughs of New York City that have been impacted by this storm and its record-setting storm surges. I do also understand that New York City Mayor Bloomberg initially called for no evacuation of these areas, no help from FEMA and insisted that New York City was prepared to cover all the needs from the storm using internal resources from its own agencies. That attitude is also understandable and would certainly put off any and all those who might help despite the circumstances.
Now, we are here. The storm has ravaged buildings and homes that are now expected to house human beings as a harbor of safety where they can conduct their lives, raise their children, conduct their businesses, educate their children, heal their sick and walk in their neighborhoods without a gas mask or hazmat wear. Although Senators from New York have stood yesterday in a press conference expressing strongly that people are NOT to start rebuilding their homes quickly so the structural elements can be thoroughly dry before placing new materials over them, the people living in these areas are (in cases, because it was shown on the news today) – beginning to place new wallboard and engaging in other rebuilding efforts regardless. People in these areas are not structural engineers, nor are they capable in most cases to look these things up for themselves online.
I don’t know exactly how to help them, but I know that you can and the membership of your organization can. It would surprise me if even ten people on this island in the affected areas would consider consulting a structural engineer of any kind or know the kinds of skill sets and knowledge assets available there. Along with that, as the President said – these turf wars must end now. He did not say it, but it is true that these have cost lives and continue to make things more difficult and dangerous for people who have already suffered far beyond anything they deserved. So, between us – I am asking that your members find a way to bring their knowledge to this table. I am asking. Please do not leave us without it.
Architects and chemical engineers, structural engineers, scientists, academics and inventors who have seen things that most people would not even know exist – which would aid in this recovery and rebuilding, would offer decontamination and neutralization of the toxic sludge now saturating everything in many, many structures, or would offer a multitude of reasonable, intelligent and educated ways to rebuild or retrofit structures to be safe against future events – ARE WELCOME. We need to know those things. Our population needs to know these things as they are making choices and decisions about whether to rebuild, or to leave, or how to go about it all. You and I know that when these things have been done wrong, half-assed, backwards, ignorantly or while pretending the facts of it do not exist – will yield several generations of future harm, not just next year or five years from now. Please don’t leave us without what you and your membership know, regardless of what the department of buildings said to you.
Public information and media sources, printed information distributed through the disaster areas, speaking to groups of homeowners in neighborhoods and business owners, showing them things that could be done through news outlets and magazines and local news sources, including the call in radio shows – however it is possible to let people know that your volunteers would talk with them or answer questions and brief common-sense information from your specialized set of skills – whatever it takes for people to hear it. I personally would welcome your spokespeople being seen on local and national news and talk shows like The View – or on Dr. Oz – and CBS2 New York. I would love to hear you hosting questions as guests on NY1 radio show that many people in Staten Island listen to throughout the day. Maybe larger projects eventually will invite your members to bring their assets to the mix – I certainly hope so, but in the immediate days and weeks ahead – We need you and particularly, the people in these devastated areas need your perspectives.
Thank you for re-considering your association’s and members’ desire to participate –
Diane C Phillips
Staten Island, NY 10305
by google search – cricketdiane
I am asking that in whatever way it is appropriate, that your organization convey this invitation and concerns to your membership. It doesn’t have to be as I’ve written it – I just didn’t know any other way to express it better. By the way, it is an absolute fact that the extent of the damages and types of extraordinary problems cause by this storm and its aftermath have overwhelmed the city’s resources to meet these challenges and there have not been disasters of this magnitude within these boroughs of this type in our lifetimes with the unusual toxic dangers added in the mix. We do need help.
Thank you again.
This I’m adding to anyone reading this blog entry from New York or elsewhere –
by what right do I ask for these experts and specialists to come in with their knowledge and skills to help New York City’s residents and boroughs?
1. In case you were wondering – I have every right as an American citizen.
2. In case you wish I’d hush – whether I say something or not, the disaster and its aftermath will still exist in overwhelming proportions beyond the measure of any principality to effectively resolve.
3. In case you think it is none of my business, forget it and pretend none of the problems are really that big a deal, then in fifteen years deal with the problems that were caused by not handling this situation with the appropriate sets of skills and specialized knowledge required. No, in fact – let’s don’t.
And, just in case anyone doesn’t know this –
Structural engineering, architecture, chemical engineering, new materials science, chemistry, physics, geology, and other intelligent skills sets like them – offer a great deal more information than inspecting buildings or building sea walls and bridges. To continue turning away specialists, experts, academics, engineering specialties, groups of people with information that is needed and specialized skill sets that are vastly needed to effectively tackle this situation – is nothing short of murder. And, that is all I’ve got to say about it.
Here is where to find the EPA mold remediation information available online or by order as a printed publication –
Although this pamphlet is for commercial structures – it is much better than the info for homeowners and offers an easy to follow explanation of how to deal with the mold effectively –
And this – (from the EPA)
On November 11, 12 and 13, EPA’s boat, ‘The Clean Waters,’ was used to collect water samples in Newark Bay and New York Harbor at the request of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. On each day, there were 10 samples of ocean water collected to determine concentrations of bacteria from the releases of raw or partially treated sewage from the storm damaged Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority.
The samples were analyzed for fecal coliform, a common group of bacteria associated with human waste. The established limit in New Jersey is 14 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 ml of water for shellfish harvesting. Fecal coliform levels from the EPA’s samples were above this limit. Although bacteria levels can fluctuate daily, there is a trend of decreasing coliform levels over the past week. EPA strongly advises that people avoid activities that could bring them into direct contact with the waters in Newark Bay and New York Harbor. Results of the EPA sampling and sampling conducted directly by NJDEP to date can be found using the following link: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/sandynyharbor.html
Now, guess what – if that level of bacteria is in the waters (which are huge in volume and moving to clean themselves out), that are around Staten Island and other Hurricane Sandy storm surge affected areas – then that thick black shit-smelling, petroleum smelling, chemical smelling, sewage smelling black muck covering the ground and streets and structures on Staten Island in Midland Beach and other areas – is not something that will simply be hosed off with a garden hose or disappear from the porous wood studs of homes where it saturated over many hours.
Whatever all might be in that black sludge covering everything from the ground to the buildings’ interior spaces where it sat in the seawater saturating every surface – that is not going to be “ok” simply because to deal with it would be involved and inconvenient.
Those structures being rebuilt already and those about to be, are not what they were before this storm and its storm surge. Nor are they going to be safe and habitable in fifty years from now, or fifteen or five or in five months for that matter, if they are not handled sensibly, intelligently and appropriately. If the Mayor of New York City cares so much about this population as to make it law that soft drinks aren’t to be sold in extra large sizes, then it doesn’t make sense to incorporate known carcinogens and filth into structures by sticking a bit of new sheetrock over where the wet stuff was ripped off the old walls. (Among other things that it will cause, ill health and days upon days of sickness for entire families, children, pets and those not even born yet – will be the results and that is a known and proven set of facts, as well.)