This might be the most comprehensive sign that owning a car in New York City is an act against Mother Nature. Or building engineering. There's a NY Times story on how cars will finally be dug out after being buried by a dirt landsilde in Washington Heights last year. What's crazy is how many owners have to pay for towing their cars out themselves.

Another buried car, a red 1993 Honda Civic, belongs to Sarah Garland, a freelance reporter for The New York Times. Ms. Garland said that she received a compensation check from Greater New York Mutual last year.

“They called me on Friday to say I better start looking for a towing company to tow away my car,” she said. “They said we have to do it ourselves. I just laughed.”

Gerard Ragusa, the senior vice president for liability claims at Greater New York, said the company had an obligation to identify the cars under the rubble to prevent fraud. Since responsibility for the accident has yet to be worked out, some claims are still being investigated.

He said the owners had been told to remove their cars for legal reasons.

“Legally, no one has the right to take a car that belongs to someone else,” he said. “Only the owner can claim the vehicle.”

Huh, then what do the police do when they tow cars? Greater New York Mutual Insurance is the insurer of Castle Village (the building whose retaining wall collapse, sending tons of dirt onto the highway) and Greater New York has been getting claims for the cars, since regular auto insurance doesn't include landslides. Which probably has changed the way people who park outside think about their insurance.

Here's a look at what the city's Office of Emergency Management did when the wall collapsed.

Photograph taken a couple days after the collapse