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NY1 Exclusive: MTA Crews Show How They Pump Water From East River Tunnels

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Two out of seven subway tunnels under the East River were still flooded Monday, preventing R and L trains from rolling on their regular tracks between Manhattan and Brooklyn. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following exclusive report as crews began pumping the R tunnel in Brooklyn.

Some Brooklynites jogged to work Monday morning while the R train's tunnels into Manhattan remained flooded.

"It's a real pain that we can't have it anymore," said a Brooklyn Heights resident.

MTA crews at the Montague Street entrance to the flooded R tunnel in Brooklyn Heights were trying their best start pumping it out. They opened up the emergency hatch and set up hoses to drain the water.

They had waited nearly two hours for one of the system's three pump trains, that was at the mouth of the tunnel, to get the water flowing. Never had streaming water sounded so good.

The pump train, located 60 feet below, pumped out 5,000 gallons a minute.

An MTA worker said, "3,700 feet of water still, that was what I was told, so we're going to be working around the clock."

It was the seventh night away from home for the crew.

"My wife has been sick home, all alone for a week now. So I'm hoping to get service back on so I can go home," said another worker.

Armando Crespo, another member of the crew, explained the difficulty of running the pump train in a confined space.

"Once I start up the diesel generator on the pump train, you have the fumes from the engine," he said. "If the air monitor goes off, I have to shut the train down. Pumping operations have to be ceased until the air is clear."

Other teams were going through the same process for the L train, working at the emergency subway shaft within the Consolidated Edison plant in Manhattan while another crew was working on the Brooklyn side.

Everyone seemed to be taking it in stride.

"That's why I took the civil service job, to take care of New York," said an MTA worker.

Getting the tunnel dry is just the first step. Then the track and signals department has to come in and fix all the equipment damaged by the salt water.

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