Collapsed Buildings: Community Rallies Around Displaced Residents

It isn’t often that two buildings collapse literally in this community. Yet this is exactly what occurred earlier this week on Chelsea Street where two century-old structures simply disintegrated, turning from residences into heaps of rubble in an instant.

Dozens of long-term residents who were living in those buildings which no longer exist lost their homes and all their personal belongings and in adjacent buildings, the premises were ordered vacated by city officials fearing that they might collapse as well.

No one was injured physically but the mental detritus of this sorry event was enough to send dozens of people into a state of utter despair.

Losing all of ones’ possessions is bad enough let alone losing ones’ apartment or home.

There will be major second-guessing on this calamity.

Did the city act fast enough? Were enough building inspections conducted? Is there a serious groundwater problem on this part of Chelsea Street?

As for the city acting fast enough it is apparent that a Boston Housing Court judge ordered the four-story building at 47 Chelsea street demolished in mid-September.

The order was ignored. Following the issuance of a contempt order, the owner of the building, a New York man, was in the process of obtaining a demolition order when the building came down.

All of this does nothing to assuage the angst and the reality being faced by those who displaced by the collapse. In one case, a 15-year tenant lost everything – all her clothing, furniture, and personal possessions. To that end, East Boston has been quick to respond to this human tragedy.

The East Boston Savings Bank, through its chief executive officer Richard Gavegnano, immediately pledged $2,500 to a fund started by Representative Carlo Basile, Senator Anthony Petruccelli and Boston City Councillor Sal LaMattina.

In addition, Mayor Menino has made available the full resources of the city in aiding the displaced to find new apartments.

Displaced groundwater may be the culprit in destabilizing these structures and in fact the entire block. Groundwater and pervasive truck traffic rumbling on Chelsea Street all hours of the day and night exacerbated the situation. In addition, cracked foundations were found in all these structures as early back as 1978.

Neighbors across the street from the collapsed buildings could visibly see their deterioration.

They called here last week to warn us. They were right.

In the end, this calamity is all about human suffering as so many working class people have lost their homes and everything with the winter and the holidays looming just around the corner.

If ever there was a time to be generous to victims that time is now.

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