Utility workers struggled not only with snow and wind, but also with salt-water related damages they had never seen before. John Miksad, Con Edison's senior vice president for electric, described many meters with safety rings that were so corroded, keys to open them no longer worked. Instead, workers had to spend time grinding the rings off the meters.
In addition, the daunting task remained of reconnecting another 35,000 Con Edison customers, who had electrical equipment damage within their buildings. The utility will not be functioning at pre-storm levels for months, Miksad said.
Restoring the hard-hit Jersey shore also remains a key mission for government officials and industry participants. Four towns "are almost completely under water," said Gov. Christopher Christie (R) at an Oct. 30 press briefing. "The devastation is unthinkable."
The state Dept. of Transportation restored damage to Route 35, a key artery connecting the mainland and barrier islands, "by bulldozing sand and filling part of the breach," says a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is also involved in the shore restoration. He says 54,000 tons of sand will be used to fill the breach. "We have to stabilize the area so there is no further damage," says Eric Sambol, CEO of Sambol Construction, a Corps contractor. Adds the Corps spokesman, "we may redirect the contractor to assist building up a dune on the seaward side" in advance of the looming new storm.
As of Nov. 8, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it had completed work on one of five major breaches. The Corps is now shifting its focus to debris removal and coastal protection, it said Nov. 9.
The Corps said Nov. 9 that it had completed 11 of 14 original "missions" involving "unwatering," the Corps' term for hydraulic pumping. Rene Poche, an agency spokesman, says the Corps expects to pump at least 600 million gallons of water out of its entire mission area—which includes pumping some 10 million gal alone from the flooded Battery Park underpass in lower Manhattan, a project now completed.
About 900 Corps staffers are involved in response activities, with 65 missions costing about $249 million, according to the service.
Officials also reported completed unwatering of the Passaic Valley wastewater treatment plant in Newark, which serves 1.5 million people. More than 200 million gal of floodwaters inundated the plant, "rendering equipment inoperable," says a spokeswoman for CDM Smith, which deployed a team to assist in the 24/7 operation. Pumping at that site was 86% complete. Says the Corps in a Nov. 8 briefing paper, "small pools of water remain, and moving pumps between pools will be a time consuming process."
In hard-hit Hoboken, N.J., CH2M Hill worked with the North Hudson Sewerage Authority to keep one treatment plant on line throughout the storm and get another, which was completely flooded, back in operation within 36 hours, says Bill Doughty, CH2M Hill spokesman.
Pumping of the flooded PATH transit tunnel between Jersey City and lower Manhattan is about 99% complete but unwatering of an Amtrak substation in Kearney, N.J that has also halted service on several key lines of New Jersey Transit is only at the 75% mark, according to the Corps.
Gov. said on Nov. 3 that World Trade Center crews also completed pumping 11 million gal from the site's vehicle security center. Officials also said 14 pumps were in place at the Sept. 11 Museum, removing water from bedrock and other parts of the site.
Storm surge flooding also closed the Statue of Liberty until further notice, just one day after substantial completion of a $30-million upgrade. "The island got hit pretty hard but the statue itself is fine," says architect Michael Mills.
Mike Ramos, director of engineering for Xylem's Godwin Pumps group, says the company's operations in Philadelphia and two New Jersey locations began supporting unwatering operations across the tri-state region since before Sandy hit.
Since then, the company has activated 300 pumps at regional wastewater treatment plants, tunnels and other sites. Each pump can remove some 4 mgd, Ramos says.
The demand for such emergency equipment as generators, pumps, light towers has been relentless, says Michael Kneeland, president and CEO of United Rentals Inc. The Greenwich-Conn.-company began mobilizing equipment into the region the week prior to the storm. The effort is a huge challenge. "I wish I had power and generators for everybody," Kneeland tells ENR. "But the reality is that just can't happen. This is a very large storm that had a profound effect on a massive area."
Adding to officials' woes were fuel spills into Staten Island's Arthur Kill from storm-impacted refineries in New Jersey owned by oil companies Motiva and Phillips 66. Nearly 500,000 gal were cleaned up, according to a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman.
But the 238,000-barrel-per-day Phillips Bayway refinery, which a published report says is the second largest on the East Coast, will not restart for at least two weeks because of facility damage. Company officials say electrical equipment was damaged by salt water during the Sandy storm surge but that processing units are in "good condition."
“If there is going to be a silver lining, there is a lesson for us to learn. The lesson is that extreme weather is here to stay. Climate change is a reality. That’s going to be the next chapter of this situation,” Gov. Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, economists are weighing how the storm will affect employment for construction regionally, and nationally. "I don't see it as being much of a net positive," Associated General Contractors Chief Economist Ken Simonson told the business economists. "I think that there will be some pickup for construction in the immediate area, but a lot of that activity will take a long time to get going."