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Sandy One Year Later: Storm Wreaked Havoc On Subway System

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TWC News: Sandy One Year Later: Storm Wreaked Havoc On Subway System
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Hurricane Sandy devastated the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, causing more than $3.5 billion in damage to the city's subway system, but it could have been much worse if not for the lessons learned from a previous, less powerful storm. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Hurricane Sandy flooded subway stations and cut Rockaways residents off from the A train for seven months.

"The amount of damage the storm wreaked on the system was second to none," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

Even before the storm hit, a bus and subway shutdown brought the country's largest transit system and millions of riders to a screeching halt.

Still, the storm didn't deliver a knockout, as transit workers revived much of the subway system within five days and connected commuters to Manhattan by bus, if not always quickly.

"Oh yesterday, man, forget it! Two hours. Two hours!" said one woman at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn on November 2, 2012. "Better today, moving better, better, better."

In a matter of days, workers got the city moving again by clearing most of the nine underwater tubes breached by floodwaters.

"They just pulled out all the stops after the storm, and as you know, we were able to get the system back fairly quickly," said Carmen Bianco, president of New York City Transit.

It was a lesson learned a year earlier, when the transit system was shut down in advance of Irene, a storm that didn't make a direct hit on the city. So workers were able to remove some vital equipment from stations and tubes, and also ensured that no subway cars were lost during Hurricane Sandy.

"We hardened some places where we knew that water would come into the system, and overwhelmingly, those worked very well," Prendergast said. "In a few places, they didn't."

One of those places where it didn't work was the R train tube linking Brooklyn to Manhattan, shut down until next October for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs. The G train tube between Brooklyn and Queens also had to be shut for weekend repairs.

More tube closures haven't been ruled out.

"Every one of the other tunnels that experienced flooding will need some level of work, but to varying degrees," Prendergast said.

As for the exposed A train tracks along Broad Channel, they got a two-mile steel wall for protection from future storm surges.

In addition, hundreds of openings to subway stations in flood-prone parts of Lower Manhattan could eventually be protected by removable panels or temporary floodwalls.

If another big storm were to hit this year, however, plywood and sandbags would go right back into service.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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