Lobsang Lama Obituary: Family, Including Toddler, Dead In Flooding After Being Found In Illegal Basement Apartment Woodside, Queens, New York City
Fast-moving rains from Tropical Storm Ida sparked catastrophic flooding last night, which killed 9 New Yorkers, including a 2-year-old boy. The boy and his parents were found dead at about 10pm inside a basement in a home on 64th St. near Laurel Hill Blvd in Woodside, Queens. The water rapidly rose in the night and got so high that it flooded the 1st-floor apartment. Choi Sledge, who lives on the 3rd floor of the Woodside building, identified the family who died as Mingma Sherpa, 48, and her partner, Lobsang Lama, 50, and their son named Ang. Sledge received a call from the family in the basement pleading for help at around 9:30pm.
Sledge recalled speaking with Sherpa, “She said ‘The water is coming in right now,’ and I say, ‘Get out!’ Get to the 3rd floor! The last thing I hear from them is, ‘The water coming in from the window.’ And that was it.” Deborah Torres, 38, and her 14-year-old daughter live in the 1st-floor apartment and said, “It was so fast… we didn’t have time, the water started to come, come, come.” Torres said that the apartment was underwater within 8 minutes, “I wasn’t paying attention to my things — I was so worried about the family downstairs.” Torres thought that the reason the family couldn’t get out was because of the pressure of the water and that it was too strong on either side of the door.
The family may have been living in an illegal basement apartment. The police said that 11 of the 12 city residents who died in the storm had been found in basement apartments. These sorts of basements apartments often include makeshift dorms that are illicitly constructed. They have hallways, windowless bedrooms, shaky walls, and electrical wiring strung together dangerously. There is also no known or accurate count of how many of these makeshift basements exist, however, it’s estimated to be in the tens of thousands. These apartments leave lower-income families and immigrants vulnerable as they can be less expensive but do not meet city building standards.
There are 8 areas in Queens that consistently receive the most complaints about illegal home conversions.
Last year, between March and October of 2020, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development inspectors issued 95 vacate orders for illegal occupancy. The inadequate features in these apartments — like low ceiling heights, limited ventilation, and tricky exits — are extremely dangerous. New York City is still recovering from Hurricane Ida’s floods. The National Weather Service noted Thursday that even though the weather today is expected to be dry and mild, residual flooding will continue in some areas of NYC until Friday.
The city received 3 to 5 inches of rain per hour on Wednesday night, which started during the early hours of the night and at 11:26pm Mayor de Blasio declared a state of emergency, and The National Weather Service declared the storm a flash flood emergency for the first time ever in New York City
Tributes To Lobsang Lama
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