Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NYC Metro Area Continues Storm Recovery; Damage Estimates Roughly $7-10 Billion

$7-10 billion in damage from Hurricane Irene is nothing to scoff at. Neither is the rising death toll, which is above 40 people throughout the affected areas across 11 states. Some of the worst damage is in upstate New York and Vermont, where the storm dumped more than a foot of rain on areas and caused massive flash floods ripping apart everything in their paths. Entire towns were seemingly washed away. Hundreds of roads and bridges are out, including a stretch of the I287 in Boonton, New Jersey where the Rockaway River scoured away part of the roadway and it will be days before state officials can even begin repairs.

Many of the bridges between Paterson and Fair Lawn and Hawthorne are shut down due to flooding, but the bridge immediately above the Great Falls is open (and crowds have gathered to witness one of the greatest flood events in recent history).

Amtrak will resume service between Boston and New York later today
, but service south of New York City is still down as a result of flooding in Trenton and New Brunswick.

New Jersey Transit has resumed some service, but several lines are running abbreviated service due to damage and flooding in parts of the state, including around Wayne, where some of the worst flooding in the state is located along the Passaic River.

The Willowbrook Mall and its environs are completely flooded and the storm waters reach to the mall itself, which is highly unusual and speaks to the overall flood levels.

Flooding along the Passaic is widespread and will continue through the week as the river is expected to crest sometime today but wont fall below flood stage until the end of the week.

Metro North has also resumed some service, but there is no service from Suffern New York to Port Jervis due to flooding and storm damage along its right of way.

Further upstate, the Capital District was hammered by the rains, and both the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers continue flooding, including around Troy and parts of downtown Albany:

Gov. Cuomo warns that things will get worse before they improve across the state.
TROY — It was touch and go for a while, but water from the worst flood to hit the Collar City since at least 1977 began to recede at about 6:30 p.m. Monday.//Now comes the clean up, as water flooded a number of streets and homes in Lansingburgh and South Troy and businesses in downtown thanks to the rain that dropped as part of the remnants of Tropical Storm Irene. (Troy Record)
KEENE — Tropical Storm Irene hit the town of Keene hard, causing the greatest recorded damage since the mid-19th century.//This morning, residents woke to find their fire station ripped in half, nearly a half-dozen bridges washed out, homes destroyed and every town road suffering damage primarily caused by flooding. No lives were lost, but the cost to restore public and private property is said to be in the millions. Also, the Marcy Dam bridge washed away. (ADE)
MARGARETVILLE — A day after flash floods spawned by Hurricane Irene’s heavy rains swept through communities in Delaware, Greene and Schoharie counties, residents took stock of their losses.//The storm knocked out power to tens of thousands of people across the region, including many in Otsego County. Flash floods tore through mountain towns and caused rivers to swell, destroying or damaging homes and leading to at least one death, that of an 82-year-old woman in Fleischmanns.//Although flood warnings were issued for Walton and Downsville, river flooding in those communities was described as minor and limited to flood-prone areas. River levels were expected to fall below flood stage today.//The bulk of the damage was focused on Fleischmanns, Margaretville and Roxbury. (Oneonta Daily-Star)
Among some of the harder hit areas around Upstate New York and Vermont are ski area communities including Windham, New York and Rutland, Vermont. In fact, part of the Killington Ski Area is cut off due to storm damage, and part of one of the ski lodges there collapsed.

This damage will be lasting and the number of bridges and roads out will cause inconvenience to people around those states for a long time to come.

Local officials in places like Tuxedo, New York are considering calling in the Army Corps of Engineers to assemble temporary bridges until a permanent replacement for bridges can be made.

It's real bad news for customers who take the Port Jervis line. Service is suspended indefinitely as the damage to the line is catastrophic in nature.
Some of the more significant issues that have been identified include:

  • Three washout locations of 1,000 feet each near Sloatsburg
  • A 400-foot section of track washed out to a depth of 8 feet south of Sloatsburg
  • Significant damage to several railroad bridges
  • Suspected significant damage to the signal system, which is exposed and under water.

Metro-North will retain an engineering firm to perform a thorough inspection of 24 miles of infrastructure to determine the full extent of necessary repairs and determine required environmental permitting. Major construction work would follow.

It will take months to rebuild the track, signal and bridge infrastructure required to reinstitute train service, although the exact duration will be determined by the investigation.

Metro-North worked with Orange County to develop an alternate service plan for the 2,300 people who use the Port Jervis Line each weekday. If the NYS Thruway is open in the morning, bus service will take customers from the Harriman Station to the Ramsey/Route 17 station to catch trains. For the return trip, customers will get off trains at Ramsey/Route 17 and board a bus for the trip back to Harriman. Buses will follow the train schedule. As road and station conditions improve in Orange County, Metro-North will seek to expand the bus options available.
Damage was not nearly as severe on the East of Hudson lines, but this will put a serious crimp on service for those along the upper reaches of the Bergen/Main Line, who would often take Port Jervis express trains from Suffern, Mahwah, or Ramsey Rt. 17, to commute to Manhattan.

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