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Port Authority ramps up for hurricane season

This photo provided by the MTA shows a

This photo provided by the MTA shows a flooded escalator in the South Ferry station of the No. 1 subway line, in lower Manhattan, after Superstorm Sandy flooded New York. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

The Port Authority will spend $59 million to ramp up its storm preparedness to protect the World Trade Center, airports, tunnels and seaport facilities against what is predicted to be an active hurricane season.

"Last year we had a historic storm surge that resulted in overwhelming damage," said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at its monthly meeting in Manhattan Wednesday.

"We have taken additional protective measures above Sandy levels," said Foye. "We took stock in lessons learned and we will elevate low-line electrical infrastructure," he said.

"At the World Trade Center site, floodwaters destroyed much of the underground electrical and mechanical systems," said Foye. He said thousands of gallons of water had to be pumped out of the Holland Tunnel.

The PA has invested in concrete barriers; 40,000 sandbags for the World Trade Center; 1,000 metal panels that can be stacked as high as Sandy floodwaters, or higher to keep water from surging into tunnels, doorways, escalators and elevators at PATH stations. The PA also bought more portable electric pumps and a large generator to pump water off LaGuardia Airport's runways if power goes out.

Foye said new pump control cabinets at the Holland Tunnel will keep pumps working during a storm. The PA also stockpiled spare parts for equipment, and has its crews conducting emergency management drills in the field.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook will have a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named hurricanes with winds of 39 mph or higher. Seven to 11 of those hurricanes can have winds of up to 74 mph. Three to six hurricanes may be major, with winds of up to 111 mph or higher. The season goes from June through November.

Superstorm Sandy resulted in $2 billion in damage to Port Authority facilities.

According to a news release, the agency "anticipates recovering the overwhelming majority of the cost" coming from federal funds. "To date, the agency has been awarded $1.36 billion from the Federal Transit Administration," the release said.

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