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Massive Crack Forces Evacuation Of Upper East Side Apartment Building, Leaving Tenants Displaced

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Thirty people were displaced Thursday when an Upper East Side apartment building was evacuated because of a large, multi-story crack in an interior wall.

The FDNY was called to 300 E. 96th St. around 1:45 p.m. where they found the crack that extended from the second floor to the roof of the seven-story walk up.

"Pretty scary. I mean, as soon as we realized that the crack was pretty serious up there, it was a rush to get everything out," tenant Lara Wilson told CBS2's Andrea Grymes, wiping away tears. "They said we can get the cat, but I don't know where we're going to go. So I don't know if I can bring her with."

Wilson said she noticed a crack in her duplex a couple months ago. She said it got so bad the building moved her to a lower floor earlier Thursday.

"Today we looked at it, you could see out to the street," she said. "So it was pretty bad."

The FDNY said the building's owners were working on the problem but a tenant ended up calling 911 Thursday.

"The building's owners were aware of this situation for the last couple days. They brought in some engineers and they had started to repair it, but the tenants weren't happy I guess with the repair and called us for our evaluation," FDNY Chief Roger Sakowich said.

The FDNY determined the floors could possibly collapse, so the building needed to be evacuated immediately.

Fire officials said tenants would not be allowed back inside for at least 24 hours, possibly longer. Those who needed to retrieve their belongings were guided back in by firefighters.

"I was naturally shocked at first, and now I'm just like you know adjusting to the idea that maybe I won't be able to go home for a while. You know, it's upsetting, but it could be worse," another tenant said. "I could have been in there when the whole place came crumbling down. You know, it can always be worse."

Tenants and neighbors told Grymes they have been concerned about cracks on the inside and outside of the building. Residents said a high-rise under construction nearby may have caused the building to shake, but officials said it remains too early to tell.

CBS2 tried getting answers from a man who tenants identified as a member of the Walter and Samuels management company, but he did not want to speak with reporters.

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