In the US.
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With Sandy, New York’s subway system could become shut down.
What most people don’t know is that we depend on just 700 fragile water pumps to keep the tunnels dry—some a century old.
In fact, if someone powered down all these pumps tomorrow, the entire subway network would be inundated in just a few hours. To give you an idea of how complex and massive this system is, it pulls 13 million gallons of water out of the subway on any sunny day. No rain. Not even a single drop of water from the sky. If Sandy manages to kill the power or any of the fragile old pumps protecting the system, there may be some serious problems.
On a rainy day, the pump system is absolute chaos, to the point where the MTA—NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority—lives in permanent panic, fearing events like Sandy, the hurricane system that is approaching the little town right now. “At some point, it would be too much to handle,” said the head of the hydraulics team back in 2006, Peter Velasquez Jr., “you’ve got rain plus wind. It basically would shut down the system. You hope not. You pray that it doesn’t.
“To give you an idea about how bad this could be, some of the oldest pumps in the NYCTA system were bought second-hand from the builders of the Panama Canal. I worked for the TA many years ago and even then the pumps were considered a serious problem. The Panama Canal was finished in 1914.”
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