MTA chief: Sandy a 'devastating' disaster

The railroad crossing gate on Eagle Avenue in The railroad crossing gate on Eagle Avenue in West Hempstead wasn't working Tuesday morning. It was broken Monday night during megastorm Sandy. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeff Schamberry

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MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota outlined blows from Sandy in a statement early Tuesday, a list of vast damages that will likely keep much of public transit offline for some time.

"Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region, the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a statement. The New York subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night.

Commuter rail roads took a big hit, one that will affect Long Islanders and Westchester residents who work in Manhattan. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and found flooding in one East River tunnel, Lhota said. The Metro-North Railroad lost power, from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson line and to New Haven on the New Haven line, he said.

The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, the new name for the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, was "flooded from end to end,o while the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the last major link to remain open in and out of Manhattan, was also closed after taking on water, the MTA head said.

Six bus garages were put out of business after being disabled by high water, he said.

MTA systems will remain closed Tuesday, because it takes hours or even a full day to start up a totally shut-down system.

In his brief statement, Lhota did not hint at how long it would take to get damaged subways, trains and buses lines up and running.

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But he ended his words by trying to give hope for New Yorkers: All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.

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