(Adds expected timing on resumption of service)
NEW YORK Oct 30 The giant storm Sandy wreaked
havoc on the New York City subway system, flooding tunnels,
garages and rail yards and threatening to paralyze the nation's
largest mass-transit system for days.
"The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it
has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced
last night," Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan
Transit Authority, said in a statement early on Tuesday.
He later said that water was "literally up to the ceiling"
at one downtown station.
All seven subway tunnels running under the East River from
Manhattan to Queens and Brooklyn took in water, and any
resulting saltwater damage to the system's electrical components
will have to be cleaned - in some cases off-site - before the
system can be restored, MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said on
At dawn, emergency crews were assessing the damage to
tunnels and elevated tracks. Restoring the system is likely to
be a gradual process, Parker said.
"It's really hard to say which areas will come back first,"
she said, adding it will likely be a combination of limited
subway and bus service. "It will come back gradually."
It could be four to five days before subway service resumes,
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference on
Tuesday. As for buses, the city is hoping to resume limited
service on Tuesday and full service on Wednesday, he said.
About 5.3 million people use the city's subway system on
weekdays. The system, which runs around the clock, comprises 21
subway routes linked by 468 stations, and stretches across 660
miles (1,062 km) of track.
The MTA's Metro North Railroad lost power on its suburban
Hudson and New Haven lines, while there was flooding in an East
River tunnel used by the Long Island Rail Road, the agency said.
New Jersey's PATH commuter train service, which connects New
Jersey with New York City, will likely remain suspended for at
least a week to 10 days, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New York City closed down subway, bus and commuter train
systems on Sunday night - a full day before Sandy, one of the
biggest storms to ever hit the United States, made landfall on
Monday night in neighboring New Jersey.
Sandy was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging
winds. The storm brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet
(4.2 meters) to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous
record of 10 feet (3 meters) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the
National Weather Service said.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Additional reporting by Martinne
Geller; Editing by Eric Beech and Paul Simao)