Ida Siegal

‘You Could See Out to the Street:' NYC Building Evacuated After Stories-Tall Crack Opens Up

Lara Wilson can see through her wall.

That’s because her upper Manhattan apartment building has a gaping crack -- at least a couple centimeters wide -- up an exterior wall that has splintered up from the second floor to the roof. And the crack is growing -- leading fire officials to hastily evacuate Wilson and nearly 30 other tenants while they assess the stability of the structure.

“Today, we looked out it and you could see out to the street,” she said. “So it’s pretty bad.”

Fire officials said it’s unclear what caused the crack at the building on East 96th Street and Second Avenue -- directly over the new Second Avenue subway’s final stop.

But they said the owner had known about it for some time and had called in engineers to make a fix; Wilson said she had even been moved out of her top-floor apartment so work could be done. A tenant called the city on Thursday afternoon when they were unhappy with the fix, prompting the evacuation.

FDNY Chief Roger Sakowich said Thursday evening that monitors showed the wall had moved an inch in the last 24 hours, and they made the decision to evacuate the building, which they said was in danger of a partial collapse. Metal barricades surrounded the building to make sure people stayed away from it. 

The FDNY said a "total but temporary vacate" order was implemented "until engineers can device a plan of correction." It's not clear how long that'll take. The Red Cross has offered assistance to the displaced tenants.

Four tenants were in the home at the time the evacuation was ordered and had enough time to grab a few things. But Wilson told News 4 that her cat is still inside the building and doesn’t know if or when she’ll able to reunite with her pet.

“They said we can get the cat but I don’t know where we’re going,” she said, tearing up. “So I don’t know if I can bring her with (me).”

She added, “I just hope she’s safe up there.”

Building management declined to comment to News 4. 

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