Using scaffolding and netting would mitigate risk. It would give workers safe access to the wreckage while protecting New Yorkers from falling debris.

"There are some psychological and real benefits to having it encapsulated," says Shapiro. With the boom out of the picture, engineers would then launch a plan to replace the broken crane with a serviceable one. As with the previous jobs, the effort will require careful planning.

"We really don't think the deck has suffered any damage," says Stroh. "If that is the case, then we would have to change out the hoist pack—it got damaged—and basically put another boom up there."

The current plan is to erect a 35-ton derrick on the roof, which would replace the damaged crane parts. However, availability of those parts is not certain at this time. "Right now, for that model crane, all of the them are currently in use in the United States," says Stroh. "We have some pieces." Says a source who asks not to be identified, "You could be at $250,000 just if you tried to get a guy derrick up there," adding that it costs around $1 million to erect a tower crane in New York City. Monthly rental rates average between $50,000 and $70,000 per month.

The time and costs to get the project up and running again are unknown. But experts say it will likely take weeks. Presenting a wrinkle in the recovery effort is another storm that was moving toward the East Coast. "Once the boom is taken off, it's a pretty tame situation," Shapiro says.