Transit officials are ill-prepared to deploy personnel and resources effectively to prevent flooding in the event of a hurricane, the MTA’s office of the inspector general said Wednesday.
An IG audit found that the MTA underestimated how long it would take to deploy $350 million worth of flood defense equipment installed since Hurricane Sandy, leaving the system vulnerable to severe water damage.
MTA staff tasked with deploying the devices, meanwhile, receive only “random” training, the report says — and officers do not have an effective database to track when the flood devices go down, the IG noted.
“NYC drivers and residents rely on the MTA to correctly and efficiently deploy multi-million dollar flood defense equipment when the time comes and a hurricane is forecast,” Acting IG Elizabeth Keating said in a statement.
“The MTA still has many opportunities to improve their hurricane preparedness plans.”
The 3,500 devices include thousands of vent covers and closure devices, as well as 75 “flex gates” installed at subway entrances – all designed to prevent damaging hurricane storm water from entering the system.
But a “sham drill” in Queens last year revealed “several” problems with the deployment of the equipment, many of which were caused by poor maintenance, according to IG.
The sham operation “also highlighted the need for more formalized training
should be tracked and documented for each employee,” the report said, noting that it took workers “longer than expected” due to a lack of experience to fit vent covers.
Additionally, MTA personnel did not deploy all relevant flood defenses during the Queens dry run, raising concerns for IG that the MTA does not have an accurate estimate of how much time it will take to effectively prepare for a storm scenario.
“NYC Transit has not collected enough deployment timeline information needed to verify that all required deployments are viable,” IG’s auditors wrote.
The $350 million came from nearly $8 billion worth of Federal Transit Administration grants made to the MTA in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Boiled seawater from the 2012 “superstorm” severely damaged NYC’s subway infrastructure, forcing the MTA to close and repair several underwater tunnels.
“This report highlights the significant steps NYC Transit has already taken in partnership with MTA Construction & Development to address a complex but vital task,” MTA spokesman Michael Cortez said in a statement. “NYC Transit is uncompromisingly committed to resilience and is investing $5.8 billion to protect the transit system against coastal flooding.”
https://nypost.com/2022/07/20/mta-unprepared-to-use-350m-of-flood-control-devices-during-hurricane/ MTA is unprepared to deploy $350 million worth of flood defense equipment during a hurricane