Answers sought in house collapse on Delachaise Street

Answers sought in house collapse on Delachaise Street

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A family whose home was damaged when a house next door collapsed sought answers Wednesday as they remained displaced.

The city says a double with the addresses of 2426-2428 Delachaise Street collapsed Tuesday night.

Wednesday at midday, the roof of the house remained sandwiched on the collapsed double.

"My sister thankfully made it out just before it collapsed on that side," said Alvin Batiste, who lives in the house damaged when the other home began falling.

Batiste lives on one side of the double his family owns, his adult sister on the other. He said shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday it was obvious something was wrong at the adjacent residence.

"I literally heard a loud boom and I'm watching the wall cave in," said Batiste.

Records from the New Orleans Assessor's Office list the owner of the house that collapsed as Rebecca T. Nguyen. In the records, the house was declared uninhabitable in 2010.

But at the time it crumbled to the ground it was under renovation. New pieces of lumber could be seen protruding from the debris.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office said police, firefighters, and personnel from the City's Department of Safety and Permits as well as Entergy crews responded to the scene.

City Hall said firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to make sure no one was caught in the rubble, and that there were no hidden fires.

The city said that a renovation permit was issued to the owner on June 9 to convert the two-family dwelling into a single-family home, and that the owner, Rebecca Nguyen, was acting as the general contractor, which state law allows.

A woman at the scene identified only as a friend of the owner said Nguyen was out of the country. She said the property seemed to be unstable on Saturday, so she alerted the crew renovating the house.

"It kind of leaning on the side, so I just tell them it don't look very stable," she said.

She said the crew did not show up as planned.

"Monday I waited for them and they never came, and I kept calling. I said, 'I've got to take off from work to be here two hours waiting for you, you don't come. Why don't you let me know?' And then he's like, 'find somebody else,'" she said.

"I did notice everything was just framed up, it was like the roof was just supported by the frame that they had, and then all of a sudden it just came down," said Batiste.

He and his family stayed in a hotel after the harrowing incident.

"All I could think is to duck for cover and hope for the best," said Batiste.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the collapse remains under investigation. Removal of the wreckage is expected to begin soon.

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