How disastrous was New Jersey preparation for hurricane Sandy?
By now you may have heard about how New Jersey Transit parked their trains in rail yards, even after being warned they were in the flood zone:
A report on climate change completed for NJ Transit months before superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey urged the agency to begin planning for higher storm surges that could envelop rail yards, destroy track beds and corrode switches, gates and signals.
The Oct. 29 storm caused more than $400 million in damage to the agency’s system. The $45,990 study included a map that shows the Kearny and Hoboken rail yards sit squarely in “storm surge areas.” Sandy floodwaters inundated both yards, swamping locomotives and rail¬cars — including 84 new multilevel passenger cars — and damaging spare parts.
In those two yards, damage to railcars and locomotives was estimated at $100 million. Nearly two months after the storm hit, NJ Transit’s rail service is still not operating at 100 percent. And the decision to leave locomotives and passenger cars in the low-lying yards has provoked a torrent of criticism from lawmakers and rail advocates. Throughout it all, NJ Transit officials, at hearings in Trenton and Washington, D.C., have maintained that they had no prior knowledge the yards could flood.
The story is actually much more horrifying than what has been widely reported. It wasn’t just trains left in low-lying areas — but also prisoners.
The nearby Hudson County Correctional facility was also inundated by the storm surge. My sources inform me that prisoners in the ground-floor cells had to be quickly evacuated to the upper floors when a wall of water came crashing through. Fortunately nobody was killed, but as you can imagine, it was rather terrifying to be locked in a cell as flood waters came pouring in. Some of the inmates suffered panic attacks.