Here’s How Army Engineers Are ‘Unwatering’ NYC’s Tunnels

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    By Spencer Ackerman Here's How Army Engineers Are 'Unwatering' NYC's Tunnels | Danger Room | Wired.com
    November 1, 2012 |
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    Joseph Leader, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Vice President and Chief Maintenance Officer, shines a flashlight on standing water inside the South Ferry 1 train station in New York, NY, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP

    The scale is staggering: Superstorm Sandy flooded New York City’s network of underground and vehicular tunnels with up to 400 million gallons of water. On Thursday, the U.S. military began to bring some of its heavy equipment into place – from generators to powerful water pumps to trucks flown from across the country. But, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emphasized to Danger Room, they’re just getting started with the cleanup.

    The work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Manhattan starts at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the major underwater thoroughfare for cars passing between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Corps crews assembled at South Ferry, near the Manhattan entrance to the tunnel, have begun receiving power generators and other preliminary equipment by barge from the Navy, ahead of the high-head submersible pumps or centrifugal pumps necessary to start drainage. Task number one is to clear out the underpass to the tunnel, a task that the Corps’ Jim Pogue estimates will take about 24 hours, coming from two different sites. The expected extraction: 10 million gallons.

    The crews have limited access to the submerged tunnels: There’s “only one way in and one way out,” Pogue tells Danger Room. Worse, it’s a moving target. As the water recedes, “you’re chasing it down the tunnel so the pumps have to be continuously repositioned.”

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