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Port Authority Estimates Sandy Damage at $300M

Work on the Hoboken station is still being done. Repairs will take several more weeks.

The Hoboken PATH station — usually full of waiting PATH riders between New York and New Jersey — remained quiet on Tuesday morning, while Port Authority workers continue to repair the massive damage that was done by Superstorm Sandy.

Thousands of gallons of water flooded the Hoboken station, which is currently the only station that is still closed. Water came in through the walls and elevators leading to the station, in one case shattering the elevator's glass.

The breaker rooms that house all the electrical wires for the tunnels were severely flooded too and are still being repaired, said acting director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Stephen Kingsberry.

The total damage to the PATH system, said Kingsberry, is about $300 million. Kingsberry said the authority is working with FEMA to pay for the damage.

As far as an estimated date goes for the opening of the Hoboken station, Kingsberry said "it'll be weeks instead of months." 

Stairways to Hoboken's 100-year-old station were replaced, he said, as well as all the turnstiles and the track signal system. The system's pumps are also being replaced.

"All equipment was damaged," said Kingsberry.

In an earlier interview, Mayor Dawn Zimmer said that "a much more resilient" path station would be built which would include two pumps — for the possibility of future flooding — and two control panels.

"This works normally takes six to nine months," Zimmer said.

Vice President Joe Biden also toured the damaged station when he visited Hoboken two weeks ago.

In preparation of the storm, about 3,000 sandbags were places, said Kingsberry. If it had been a normal storm, he said, "we would have been able to handle it ... it was larger than anybody ever expected."

About ten million gallons of water flooded the system. As far as damage goes, said Kingsberry, Sandy was much bigger than 9/11.

Tom O'Neill, a 12-year PATH veteran, agreed. 

"This was worse than 9/11 for us," said O'Neill, who climbed into the flood water in one of the tunnels to turn on the pump after the storm. O'Neill, 56, went into the tunnel in a police boat, he said.

After climbing out and submerging himself in the cold water, he turned on the pump.

"I don't know how cold it was," O'Neill said. At that point, he said, "the adrenaline was flowing."

After more than a decade as a maintenance works and the son of a PATH employee, O'Neill said he considers the Port Authority a "family business."

"I know the guys that work here," he said. "They're working hard."

But fixing the system just takes time.

"Electric and water don't mix," said O'Neill. "It just doesn't."

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