Subway system could remain closed for up to four days until flood waters are pumped from tunnels, authorities said on Tuesday, but there was yet no timetable for when the system would reopen - Floodwaters rushed through Lower Manhattan on Monday night, inundating some tunnels and likely leaving New York City’s mass-transit system hampered for days.
No clear estimate was available, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not provide a timetable for reopening the subways. But the extent of flooding and the height of the storm surge appeared likely to meet or exceed the level of a 1992 nor’easter that forced the temporary closure of subway tunnels for both the MTA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.An MTA spokesman said late Monday night that water had reached into some of the five subway tubes that stretch under the East River between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, although it wasn’t yet clear which tunnels had been affected or how much water had entered the system. The spokesman said floodwater had also been found in the underground tunnel that carries the no. 1 train to South Ferry at the tip of Manhattan, one of the low-lying stations about which officials had been most concerned because of the chance for flooding.
“There’s been an enormous surge that’s come up, some streets two and three feet under water,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a telephone interview earlier Monday evening after a tour of Lower Manhattan. Water is “flowing at great speed” from the West Side Highway into the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, he said, but it’s too early to say how much had entered the subway system.
A previous statement from the MTA that four feet of water had entered the subway tunnels in fact referred to water pooled inside a subway station, a spokesman said.
“This is quite serious,” Lhota said. Transit workers were beginning to enter the subway system in the evening to assess damage and any incursions of water.
The subway system is complex, Lhota said, and some lines less affected by the flooding in Lower Manhattan could likely be restored to service sooner than others.
Much remained unknown on Monday night. ”We’re trying to get an estimate of what if anything we’re dealing with here,” he said.
But any damage to underground infrastructure from a wave of corrosive saltwater would wreck the chance of a quick restoration of full subway service between Manhattan and Brooklyn. One MTA official said, declining to specify a timetable, said: “It could be a long time.”
As the Journal reported Monday evening, transit workers had been moving to seal off openings that could allow corrosive salt water to sweep into the subway system and incapacitate trains. The threat of an extended shutdown loomed over a system that carries 5.2 million passengers a day and is essential to the city’s economy.
CFN - California Fire News 2012