Date: Oct 26, 2012
Press Release Number: 148-2012
Agency is on High Alert in Advance of Anticipated Coastal Storm Early Next Week
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is making preparations in advance of the anticipated landfall of a significant coastal storm early next week, which forecasters say will bring hurricane force winds, heavy rain, record high tides and coastal flooding to the region.
The agency will have a full complement of staff at all of its transportation facilities to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of customers who use them each day can be safely accommodated during this severe weather event. The agency also will activate its emergency management office to monitor the changing weather conditions.
In addition to closely monitoring changing conditions and conducting regular briefings internally, the agency is coordinating with the governor’s offices in New York and New Jersey, the New York City mayor’s office, the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management, other external stakeholders and the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls air traffic.
To prepare for major weather events, the Port Authority conducted a major coastal storm tabletop exercise in May and a Hurricane Preparedness Webinar in July in conjunction with the National Weather Service. In addition, the Port Authority has conducted four full-scale drills in the past two months at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, the Bayonne Bridge and AirTrain Newark to prepare for emergencies. The agency also has held several first responder orientations at its facilities in the past 12 months.
As the storm approaches, the Port Authority strongly advises airline passengers to check with their carriers on the status of their flight. In the past, airlines have cancelled flights in advance of forecast storms. The agency strongly urges customers not to go to the airports unless they are certain that their flight will be departing.
At the Port Authority’s five airports, officials have begun taking precautions including securing any outdoor loose materials and notifying tenants and lessees to do the same; checking and clearing all storm drains and roadway gutters; servicing and fueling all vehicles, generators and pumps; preparing and placing sand bags and preparing traffic control equipment such as cones and barrels.
In addition, all Customer Care Representatives are preparing for irregular operations through vigorous training and experience dealing with previous storms. They are able to provide assistance with basic items (water, diapers and baby formula) for any passengers who may be stranded. And under terms of the agency’s concession contracts, at least one food vendor in every passenger terminal must remain open 24 hours so that food is available any time of the day or night.
Workers in the agency’s Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Department are reviewing high wind procedures and readying for potential traffic restrictions or closings. All sumps and drains are being checked and sump pits are being pumped down in anticipation of the forecasted heavy rainfall. And plans are being made to bring in a full complement of police, operations and maintenance staff this weekend in advance of the storm. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal, staff is coordinating with all of the terminal’s bus carriers to determine their service plans in the coming days.
On PATH, crews are preparing to combat potential flooding with sandbags and the use of pumps throughout the system, including the deployment of trailer-mounted portable diesel pump that can be used inside PATH tunnels if necessary.
The Port Commerce Department has advised its maritime terminal tenants to take necessary precautions, which include placing sandbags at the base of cargo doors to minimize water intrusion, securing and covering cargo stored outdoors if it cannot be transferred to sheltered areas, and securing cranes, barges, warehouse doors and yard equipment. Contractors also are being asked to secure any equipment on job sites.
The World Trade Center staff notified contractors to secure construction sites and take precautionary measures including tying down and securing material and loose debris at construction sites; storing loose tools; and securing netting, banners, scaffolding and sidewalk sheds. Engineers also are implementing plans to secure cranes against the storm’s winds, while crews are preparing to use pumps, sandbags and other measures to stem flooding.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Chris Valens or Steve Coleman
Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in New York. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the state of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency relies on revenues generated by facility users, tolls, fees and rents as well as loans, bond financing, and federal grants to fund its operations. For more information, please visit http://www.panynj.gov..