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New York City Transit System Is Crippled by Flooding


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New York City Transit System Is Crippled by Flooding


Published: August 8, 2007



Powerful thunderstorms swept through the New York metropolitan area this morning, tearing up trees and damaging cars and homes, and creating havoc during the morning commute.



Kitra Cahana/The New York Times[/float]Subway stations were flooded, forcing commuters out onto the streets and into taxis and buses, and bringing traffic in many areas to a standstill. The region’s three major airports — La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark — all reported flight cancellations and delays.


No subway line was unaffected by the heavy rains and winds, according to the M.T.A. For the time being, the M.T.A. was advising commuters to stay at home.


Train delays and cancellations were reported on the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North, and train and bus delays and cancellations were reported on New Jersey transit. As the storm knocked down power lines, thousands of homes were without power.


An M.T.A. spokesman said train and bus services were expected to return to normal by about noon.


Meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki of the National Weather Service said an investigator would be sent to the scene to determine if a tornado was responsible, The Associated Press reported.


But Jeff Warner, a meteorologist at Penn State University, said no tornados formed or touched down. He said 1.7 inches of rain fell in Central Park between 6 and 7 a.m., and recent hot, humid weather powered clusters of thunderstorms over Pennsylvania and lower New York State that moved through the metropolitan area.



Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press[/float]Paul Fleuranges, a spokesman for New York City Transit, said: “We’re coming back slowly. We have to dry out we have to clean up and then we have to make sure the circuits and the signals are working before we resume service.”


For the latest service information, please see the Times’ City Room blog.


Alfonso Quiroz, a Consolidated Edison spokesman, said that about 4,000 customers throughout the city were without power — including 1,500 on Staten Island and 1,000 in the Bronx — largely because the storm knocked down power lines.


Amid the commuter havoc, M.T.A.’s website, mta.info, shut down. It was the second time in several weeks that the website was not able to function during a transit crisis. The last one was during a minor blackout on the east side of Manhattan several weeks ago.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg was to give a press conference this morning in the Bay Ridge district of Brooklyn, one of the areas hard hit by the storm.



Richard Drew/Associated Press[/float]“It looked like tornado activity, a very dense black wall, almost like a heavy velvet fog,” said J. R. Thomason, a fundraiser for the New York Philharmonic, who watched the storm from an attic room in a three-story house in the Kensington district of Brooklyn between 6 and 7 a.m.


“It was over very fast, within 30 seconds,” he said. In a nearby street, a large tree had crushed a van and its branches stretched across the road, stopping traffic. In Brooklyn, the F train was delayed, and as trains started up again later in the morning, subway cars were way overcrowded.


John Han, 50, a financial adviser, said he arrived at the Fort Hamilton stop at around 7:45 a.m., but about an hour later had given up and was going home.


“The cars are running, but real slow,” he said, accompanied by his wife. “It looked like a sardine can. We are going home and taking a shower and going to try again, because we are very sweaty.”


Around Brooklyn, motorists drove in search of an open subway line, so that they could park and take the train. In the Kensington area of Brooklyn, leaves and other debris littered the street, trash cans were knocked over, and awnings on stores were ripped. On the corner of Dahill Road and Church Avenue, trees blocked road lanes, and a 30 foot long pizzeria sign was down on the sidewalk.


Pete Chiaramonte, 41, who was on his way to work at a towing company, said he saw what he thought was the storm touching down at around 5.30 a.m. near the corner of 37th Street and 13th Avenue. “It was a funnel shape,” he said. “It looked kind of black and blue,” adding, “it was way up high and came right down on the roof of” a department store. “Pieces of the roof were all over the place. It was a big bang.”


At 370 East Second St. in Kensington, Carol Perri DeSimone, a sales representative, stood amid the remains of her porch. “I’m heartbroken, my roof landed three doors away,” she said. “I was scared to death.”


In Manhattan, the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 lines on the West Side, and the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 lines on the East Side shut down for a time. The 42nd Street shuttle was also suspended. The Metro-North Railroad reported at 8:50 a.m. that services on all three of its lines had been restored, although there were significant delays coming in to Grand Central Terminal.

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