August 9, 2007
A Sudden Storm Brings New York City to Its Knees
By JAMES BARRON
A brief but fierce storm drenched the New York region just before the morning rush yesterday, paralyzing the transit system, flooding major thoroughfares, cutting off electricity to thousands of homes and causing confusion that lingered through a humid, sweaty day.
The storm, which sent water gushing into subway tunnels and swirling over commuter railroad tracks, also unleashed a tornado that brushed Staten Island, then whipped southwestern Brooklyn with winds of up to 135 miles an hour.
That was perhaps the most ominous part of a deluge that left people wondering if they were waking up to a major catastrophe, with streets blocked by the twisted wreckage of cars with broken-out windows that had been battered by debris.
The deluge overwhelmed storm sewers, and one woman was killed after her car became stuck in a flooded underpass on Staten Island. The police said another car struck hers, starting a fire that burned her so badly that her body could not be immediately identified.
City officials said at least a half-dozen people elsewhere had been injured by the storm.
Commuter rail service was interrupted, and hundreds of airline flights were delayed. Stretches of heavily trafficked arteries like Queens Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue were under water.
But the biggest disruption struck the city’s subway system, where most lines were shut down during the morning rush when the water knocked out signals, stranding or delaying millions of riders. Though the Metropolitan Transportation Authority restored most of them during the day, a half-dozen were still out of commission during the evening rush hour and the agency said some problems could last into today.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to review how the transit system had failed after a sudden downpour for the third time in seven months. At a separate news briefing, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg referred to “chaos with the subway system,” but refrained from judging ...full text