ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE EAST VILLAGE EXPLOSION ON SECOND AVENUE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 26, 2016
Contact: John Blasco, (212) 677-1077, jblasco@council.nyc.gov

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE EAST VILLAGE EXPLOSION ON SECOND AVENUE

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, elected officials, city agencies, and community residents hold a Day of Remembrance Press Conference to reflect on the East Village Explosion and speak to legislative measures introduced to prevent future disasters

New York – Today, Councilwoman Rosie Mendez was joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Li, LES Ready, Rev. Jacqui Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church, the family of Moises Locón and Nicholas Figueroa, and city agencies to reflect on last year’s tragic event on Second Avenue and East 7th Street known as the East Village Explosion.

One year ago, an explosion that was caused by illegal gas tampering: took the lives of Moises Locón, 27, and Nicholas Figueroa, 23; led to the collapse of three buildings located at 119, 121, and 123 Second Avenue, rendered dozens of families homeless; and temporarily displaced several small businesses and neighboring area residents for weeks and in some cases months.

“Today we remember Moises Locón and Nicholas Figueroa who heartbreakingly lost their lives just one year ago. We also give thanks to those brave men and women who rushed into certain danger that day to save others from harm and provide relief to those in need,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The City of New York is committed to preventing tragedies like this from happening again, and we will continue to bring justice to those who show a blatant disregard for human life.”

The City Council has responded with legislation aimed at preventing another disaster. Councilwoman Mendez is the lead sponsor of Intro. 1093, which requires gas providers to notify the Department of Buildings within 24 hours of issuing a gar service shut off. This bill and 8 others were introduced in the City Council on February 24th to hold individuals and agencies accountable.

“A year after the East Village Explosion, all that remains is three empty lots as a constant reminder of an avoidable tragic event that took the lives of two young men, rendered dozens of residents homeless, temporarily displaced hundreds of others from their homes and interrupted the livelihood of small business owners for weeks and in some cases months. As a community, we are still mourning for the two young men who had so much to live for. As a community, we are still recuperating as individuals are still living in temporary or transitional housing. However, as a community we are grateful that the loss of life and the permanently homeless was not greater than what it was. We are grateful to the passersby who assisted individuals to safety and to our first responders who contained the damage, risked their lives to do so and despite many obstacles are all with us today. As a community, we join the families of East Harlem in their sorrow. We can never forget the tragedies that were avoidable and we vow to work to ensure that no one else has to suffer and endure what the families and our communities have,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

“This time last year was a dark day for this neighborhood and for the families of those whose lives were lost,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This tragedy, however, was not going to hold us back. The East Village community quickly came together and showed its strength, proving once again that New Yorkers can and always pull together and support one another in times of crisis. We are resilient people. We come together and we care for each other. I want to thank the first responders who selflessly put their life on the line to help assist everyone affected by this event and to Council Member Rosie Mendez for introducing legislation that will help strengthen gas safety rules and hopefully prevent another tragedy like this one from happening again.”

“One year ago, the East Village and our entire City was rocked by a preventable and senseless tragedy that took two young lives. My thoughts and prayers are with Moises Locón and Nicholas Figueroa’s family and friends, whose memories we especially honor today. We thank our always-brave and courageous first responders, who ran into the face of the first. And we remember the resilient spirit of the East Village that came together to support its community. Through our new legislation, we honor the lives lost, and ensure that this tragedy never happens again,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“When our community endures this kind of tragedy, we have one job as public servants: do everything we can to ensure it does not happen again,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I commend Council Member Mendez and all my colleagues in the Council for advancing a slate of bills with that purpose. As we remember the victims of this tragedy and honor their memory, let us continue to strive toward a safer city for all.”

“The one-year anniversary of the East Village explosion is a somber, but important event. One year ago, we lost two innocent individuals due to greed and poor safety oversight. This tragedy is a reminder that the pursuit of profits over people too often jeopardizes the safety of all New Yorkers. While the City has made efforts since the explosion to bring those responsible to justice, there is still much to do in order to ensure that this type of tragedy cannot occur again. I am confident that we can continue to work together as a community to rebuild,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick.

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “Today is a somber day as we remember the gas explosion in the East Village a year ago that caused the death of Moises Ismael Locón Yac and Nicholas Figueroa, destroyed three buildings and resulted in the upheaval of an entire neighborhood. We can take solace from the fact that the community has rallied in support of the victims and small businesses in the area and District Attorney Cy Vance has charged five individuals with crimes relating to the incident, but there is more work to ensure that a tragedy like this never reoccurs. I’m thankful to Council Member Rosie Mendez for helping the neighborhood rebuild and organizing this one-year commemoration.”

“Our thoughts and our prayers continue to be with the two families that lost their loved ones during this tragic incident a year ago,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “We are also truly grateful for the service of our first responders who work on a daily basis to keep our communities safe, and the many New Yorkers who selflessly volunteered their time and efforts to help the East Village community recover from this tragic event.”

“Our community will never forget the tragedy that occurred one year ago—a tragedy that should not have occurred and that we cannot allow to occur again,” said Gigi Li, Chair, Community Board 3. “Two lives were lost and people lost their homes and businesses. There is justice in the arrests of people who committed criminal acts, but the gas safety legislation introduced by Councilwoman Mendez and others is necessary to insure that this is not allowed to occur again. The legislation will provide transparency for violations, for needed work, for responsibilities of owners and occupants. It will most importantly identify immediately hazardous violations. Community Board 3 joins with our community and elected officials in remembering the loss of many in our community. We look forward to the swift passing of the legislation necessary to ensure this does not happen again.”

“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ I honor the lives of Moises Locón and Nicholas Figueroa, and pray for their families as they mourn their loss. On this first anniversary of their deaths, I give thanks to our courageous and tireless first responders–the Fire Department and the New York Police Department — who worked for days and nights to control the fires and keep our community safe. I am thankful for my Middle Church Community, who opened our doors so that the responders could meet and rest. I’m grateful to Council Member Rosie Mendez and Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer and their staffs for supporting our neighborhood in this time of crisis. And I give thanks to God for all those who offered care, and who gave food, funds and clothing to displaced families and businesses. It truly takes a village to care for a community. And the East Village Cares. On the eve of Easter morning, as churches around the globe celebrate New Life, I pray the God of new beginnings will bless and keep those who grieve, and all who suffer,” said Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church.

“On behalf of the Red Cross, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the Figueroa and Locón families on this solemn anniversary. As we honor those lost in this tragedy, we recognize the first responders, faith-based groups, local businesses, volunteers, elected officials and everyday New Yorkers who put their lives on hold to help this community recover and heal. We at the Red Cross are proud to stand alongside and support our neighbors when they need it most,” said Josh Lockwood, Regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater New York.

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