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Hurricane Sandy "Worst Disaster in NY Subways 108 Years"—Saltwater in Subways

Disastrous 2012 Hurricane: What Will Impact be on City-wide Mass Transit?

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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which hit on October 29, 2012, Brooklyn — and all of New York City — faces the dire prospect of possibly serious damage to a huge swath of the New York's famous subway system.

Saltwater Damage Due to Hurricane Sandy

During the height of the storm, people watching video reports saw alarming videos of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel as it flooded, with water rushing into the tunnel (which connects lower Manhattan to the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, itself flooded, and the Gowanus Expressway.)

But the public didn't get a clear look in real time at the saltwater creeping and seeping into the subway tunnels — or possibly swamping them. Subway trains were cut off before the storm, and station entrances were closed and in some cases even temporarily blockaded.

One day after the storm, Hurricane Sandy's long term impact on New York's vital transportation system began to emerge as a major post-storm concern.

In response to unprecedented flooding, MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota made a statement on October 30, 2012 that put this natural disaster's impact in perspective. He said, "The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night."

He detailed the "havoc" wreaked on the city's huge transportation system, noting that Hurricane Sandy not only downed trees and created power outages, but that

  • "seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded.
  • Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line.
  • The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel.
  • The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water."

Subways, You Can't Live Without 'Em

Brooklynites take the subway from Brooklyn Heights to Coney Island, spanning the length of the borough. Kids take the subways to school, their parents take the trains to work. Everyone uses the subways, even if they own and drive cars. Suffice it to say that for residents of Brooklyn, the subway provides a crucial artery of transportation within the borough, as well as to Manhattan's jobs, transportation hubs like Grand Central and Penn Stations, not to mention the Big Apple's famed cultural and commercial attractions. And, it's a two way street: people rely on the subway to get to the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, to Brooklyn Flea, Williamsburg and other cool neighborhoods.

It remains to be seen how long subway repairs will take, and what the long term impact is going to be on rider safety, public transit costs, and the fabric of life in Brooklyn and New York.It remains to be seen how long subway repairs will take, and what the long term impact is going to be on rider safety, public transit costs, and the fabric of life in Brooklyn and New York.

References

CBS local news video clip on subway flooding and repairs;

Brooklyn Battery Tunnel flood video

Wall St. Journal's Saltwater Puts Subway 'In Jeopardy'

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