Crews have pumped much of the flood water out of stations and tunnels, but officials said it could still be several days or longer before full service is restored. Electronic signals, tracks, heating vents, public-address systems, fare-collection machines and lighting all need to be inspected for damage before the stations can be deemed fit for passengers and employees.
“Pumping water is the first step of many steps,” said Frank Jezycki, the system’s chief infrastructure officer.
Perhaps the most serious damage occurred at the South Ferry station, at the southern tip of Manhattan, where waves of flood water smashed through barricades, ripped off chunks of the wall and rose 40 feet from the track bed to the mezzanine level where passengers enter through turnstiles.
Crews have pumped about 15 feet of water out of the station, Jezycki said, but on Friday afternoon a murky brown pool about 25 feet deep still sat above the tracks, littered with debris and thick with the stench of fuel. The recently renovated station is one of the most important in the city, serving Wall Street and the city’s financial hub.
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Sandy reached a grim milestone Friday, when authorities attributed 100 deaths in the United States to the storm, on the heels of 71 killed in the Caribbean. In a sad coda, the Coast Guard called off the search for the captain of a three-masted sailing ship that sank off North Carolina as Sandy zeroed in on the coast.
One crew member was killed and 15 rescued, and rescue workers had been searching since Sunday for Robin Walbridge, captain of the HMS Bounty, which was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Calling off a search, said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District, “is one of the hardest decisions we have to make.”