Sunday, May 4, 2014

New York Rising

I imagine anyone having serious damage from Superstorm Sandy must be very used to having their patience tried. Government red tape and delays in getting any kind of assistance to those in need have got to be maddening for those affected.

We know some people who live in a two-story house in Massapequa, here on Long Island; it was originally built in 1947 but had been renovated and expanded over the years. They are about a block and a half away from the bay to their south, another block away from a canal to the east, and two blocks from a canal to the west. Their first floor was wiped out during Hurricane Irene, a few years ago, so they had to rebuilt it. When Sandy hit Long Island, it completely destroyed their first floor again.

Early photos by Ken Bausert; later photos by Tim (the homeowner).
Click on any photo to enlarge.

Now, I’m sure there are people saying, “Well, they shouldn’t build homes so close to the water,” and, of course, in a perfect world, that’s correct. But, as in many other areas, homes have long been built in locations that never suffered such catastrophic damage over the course of decades – or even hundreds of years – and it only takes one superstorm to show how vulnerable they can be.

In any case, after fourteen months, this family was finally approved for assistance and they are in the process of raising their house ten feet off the ground. Since we had been in contact with Pat, she informed us of when the work was being done so I spent two days watching – and photographing – the event.

Because the house originally sat on a slab (no basement) there were no first floor joists to lift it from. That required hefty wooden beams to be secured to all the inside wall studs of the first floor so that huge steel girders could be placed (through holes in the walls) under them before being lifted by powerful hydraulic jacks. And, because there were few load-bearing walls in the center of the first floor, massive supports had to be placed under the second floor during the lift to maintain integrity with the first floor walls.
A tricky undertaking!

The new ground level can not be used for “living space” and, of course, the old first floor (now the second floor) must have all new floor joists installed. The oil burner remains on the ground level but must be raised over a yard off the slab so that it will not be damaged unless the water level rises above that height in the event of another storm.

The hydraulic pumping station which distributes pressure to
nine strategically-placed jacks that raise the house.

Each time the house is raised about 12-15 inches, the house must be re-supported
so the jacks can be lowered and repositioned for the next stage of the lift.

Once the house reaches about ten feet,
a new footing must be prepared for a new foundation
before the house can be lowered to its new final position..

Spiral pilings are screwed into the ground
to a depth of ten-feet before the concrete footing can be poured. 

The tops of the pilings can be seen in the photo below
after they have been driven into the ground.

The new footing forms receive rebar to reinforce
the new concrete.

Vertical rebar is added to reinforce the concrete
that will be poured into the foundation forms.

After the foundation is complete, it must set up before
the house can be lowered and attached to it.

With the house finally reattached to the new foundation,
the interior and exterior can be rebuilt.