New York: The New York city`s famed subway system, a lifeline for millions, could be out of action for "a good four or five days" due to flooding in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, city officials have warned.
As the remnants of storm left the city yesterday, officials surveyed the damage to the over 1,000 km-long subway system, which they shut down on Sunday night as a precaution.
"What they found was an unprecedented assault: flooded tunnels, battered stations and switches and signals likely damaged," the New York Times reported.
The bulk of the subway network, pulsing through four of New York City`s five boroughs, could be lost for "a good four or five days," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The city`s subway system is the most extensive public transportation system in the world by number of stations, with 468 stations in operation and by total length of routes.
"The New York City subway system is 108 years old," Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said.
"It has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced on Monday night," he said.
Seven subway tunnels beneath the East River, many of which provide critical connections between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, were flooded, Lhota said. The South Ferry station at the southern tip of Manhattan was filled "track to ceiling" with water, the authority said.
Limited bus service returned yesterday afternoon, and a full schedule was expected today.
But the transportation agency offered no estimate as to when even part of the subway system might return.
The Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road commuter train lines were also devastated, suffering power losses as fallen trees and other debris littered the system.
On Monday, the authority said that pumping water out of flooded tunnels could take anywhere from 14 hours to more than 4 days. After that task is complete, the authority will still need to address any damage to its electronic signalling system or switches, which were susceptible to saltwater corrosion.
A team of specialists from the Army Corps of Engineers has been summoned to clear the system. It is the first time that the team made up of two mechanical engineers and two hydrologists has been asked to help clear water outside of New Orleans since it was created after Hurricane Katrina.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie said he expected PATH trains to be unavailable for at least seven to 10 days. New Jersey Transit has also suspended operations.