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Sandy and the MTA
October 23, 2013 6:03 PM   Subscribe

"He already knew things were worse than anyone expected. During Hurricane Irene, in August 2011, flooding at Battery Park was bad — but not three-feet-of-water-over-Lower Manhattan bad. The area was a lake, the subway stairs at the South Ferry entrance a small cascade."

How the MTA prepared for Hurricane Sandy, and how it has changed its strategy, if not its available options, for future storms. (SLNYT)
posted by computech_apolloniajames (15 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hurricane Sandy is why we're not getting an Alamo Drafthouse in the old Metro theatre at 90 something and Broadway.

So it was the worst thing ever.
posted by The Whelk at 6:08 PM on October 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Where I was in Brooklyn during Sandy, the only issue in my neighbourhood was a couple of downed branches; one broke the windshield of a parked car. I worked from home, I had power, water and food, so the storm didn't really affect me. When I went to volunteer for cleanups around the city afterwards, I couldn't believe the damage elsewhere. You can see things on the news, but it's nothing like actually witnessing the aftermath yourself.

And the Montague tubes for the N and R trains in the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan still need 14 months' worth of repair because of Sandy!

To be honest, though, it feels like there were noticeable issues with the structural integrity of a lot of MTA stations at least by 2002. I remember not being able to use the High Street station in Brooklyn after a heavy autumn downpour, which had never been the case before in my years of living here. I recall mentioning to friends how weird it seemed that one rainstorm knocked a station out like that, but it's only gotten worse, and the news has mentioned these sorts of problems more often in subsequent years. But kudos to the brave folks who went in to do what they could during Sandy.
posted by droplet at 6:49 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember in 2007 some freak rainstorm knocked out nearly every subway line that summer. I wonder if there hadn't been some big-ass waterproofing repairs in the ensuing few years between then and Sandy - not anything 100% hurricane-proof, of course, but I imagine they did some work as a result.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2013


I remember that rainstorm! It was my first day of work on my first corporate job after finishing grad school and moving to NYC. I finally made it to the office a little after 11, flustered and gross, only to find it completely empty, as the company had sent out an email telling everyone to telecommute. Luckily, my boss took pity on me and sent me home, and we all pretended like it'd never happened.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:30 PM on October 23, 2013


If 2007 is the same storm I am thinking of I made it into the office after walking down to 96th street only to wait on line for a shuttle bus because the 2/3 was shut down.

While I was waiting, a co-worker txted me to say she was working from home.

When I got to the office she was actually there. Apparently our asshole manager went around powering down people's computers so they couldn't RDP in.

What a prick.

Also fuck Alamo Drafthouse. This is New York, we don't want any of your rules and regulations and your precious artisanal "pizza" and microbrews. We don't need more places classing up the neighboorhood, we need more coco helado and people playing dominos on the corner.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:49 PM on October 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Here is my plan for The Metro on 100th and Broadway.

Film Forum/Mike's Papaya/Blarney Stone.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:26 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hurricane Sandy is why we're not getting an Alamo Drafthouse in the old Metro theatre at 90 something and Broadway.

It was because costs have gone up, not because of damage to the building.
posted by brujita at 11:32 PM on October 23, 2013


I'm still angry.

Also all those trips to clean out basements in the Rockaways wore into my thick black rubber glove budget and made met yet even more cynical about the Red Cross.
posted by The Whelk at 11:33 PM on October 23, 2013


"Construction costs have risen tremendously since engaging in the project back in early 2012 (due in some measure to ongoing Hurricane Sandy reconstruction efforts) and ultimately the location is no longer financially viable for us. " -- official rationale

Too bad, the Metro was pretty much my neighborhood cinema when I lived out there.

Then, in the worst case, the water would have moved through a connecting track, and like liquid moving through a Krazy Straw, the Harlem River would have flowed south through another under-river crossing, the Harlem River-Jerome tunnel, to 125th Street in Manhattan. From there, it would have flooded the downhill Lexington Avenue line

Wow. Just wow. Chicago Freight Tunnels revisited. I wonder if consideration of mechanical flood doors at strategic points would make sense.

If Act I after Sandy hit was about the surprising extent of the devastation it wrought, Act II was about the resilience of the system’s human capital, people who had spent their lives in it. Longtime engineers were taking advantage of historic aspects of the system’s workings that the newer engineers didn’t necessarily know about.

I think I got a little something in my eye. Really, this is the fulcrum, and I hope -- it does sound like it -- the learning experience becomes a lever to increase innovation and future improvements for the system in ways that don't even directly relate to a disaster.

The NYCTA for so long was the worldwide symbol of urban decay, the graffitoed cars and menacing* riders even showing up in a recent Lhota campaign ad. Yet the system is still the largest in the world, and one of a very few running 24/7. It's in a class by itself. I really hope in some ways this is the start of a happier 21st century for the system.

* for various values of non-white, mostly
posted by dhartung at 12:10 AM on October 24, 2013


This is New York, we don't want any of your rules and regulations and your precious artisanal "pizza" and microbrews.

Speak for yourself, Giuliani.

...My office was open that day in 2007; I called the head secretary to ask what was going on, and she said that they'd decided that "please do come in, unless it is a danger to your actual life - but no matter what time you get in, we will mark your timesheet for the full day." I think I ended up carpooling in a taxi with someone from Brooklyn and rolled in at about noon. I don't remember how long I stayed, only that at some point when I was trying to get in my mother called to tell me about my parents' upcoming trip to Italy and my brother's upcoming trip to the Cook Islands and I was just having a hassle trying to get out of fucking BROOKLYN, and I got a little cranky.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 AM on October 24, 2013


Also fuck Alamo Drafthouse.

I will cut you. Seriously, I love Film Forum but I hear they make movies in color now.

On topic, one of the most encouraging things, post-Sandy, was watching the subway map light up again over the course of the week.
posted by phooky at 5:37 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will cut you. Seriously, I love Film Forum but I hear they make movies in color now.

And show them at Film Forum!
posted by Jahaza at 6:57 AM on October 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pumps are always going; on a dry day, the system takes in 13 million gallons of water that pour into it from underground streams and other sources.

That is . . . holy crap. I'm a huge subway fan and I love NY subway trivia, but I had no idea about that. That is a metric shitload of water for a dry day.
posted by The Bellman at 7:12 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Bellman, I always thought that was one of the most interesting things about the NYC subway system, in many parts of the city it's actual built below the water table.
posted by inertia at 8:15 AM on October 24, 2013


Sanitary & Topographical Map of the City and Island of New York Shows the streams and creeks of Manhattan.

One of the most well known is Minetta Creek
posted by Ad hominem at 9:39 AM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


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