POSTED NOVEMBER, 2012
Story by Lieutenant Joel Ferguson
Atlantic Strike Team
National Strike Force
Hurricane Sandy brought destruction and devastation to the east coast in the final days of the 2012 hurricane season. Sandy not only destroyed homes and caused power outages throughout the New York and New Jersey region, but it severely impacted the transportation infrastructure in New York City.
Hurricane Sandy's storm surge pushed approximately 86 million gallons of water into the Brooklyn Battery/Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, making it completely impassable. In fact, massive flooding pushed water into many of the metropolitan tunnels. The severing of these transportation arteries resulted in extensive traffic redirection and significantly burdened the capacity of alternate routes into the city.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responded under a FEMA Emergency Support Function 3 mission assignment and established a Joint Task Force to be responsible for removing hundreds of millions of gallons of flood water from the affected transportation infrastructures.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Eugene Peters, with the Atlantic Strike Team, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Austin West, with the Pacific Strike Team, conduct dewatering operations inside the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in New York City Nov. 9, 2012. The National Strike Force deployed members from all three strike teams to assist with the tunnel that flooded during Hurricane Sandy. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaclyn Young.
Upon direction from the Commander of National Strike Force, Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson, the NSF Operations Officer, initiated the creation of a standardized NSF pump pallet consisting of high capacity pumps and ancillary equipment. Upon confirmation of 17 such supported pallets within the NSF, Hanson then reached out to the USACE offered the NSF's pumping equipment, which included submersible pumps capable of discharging 2,000 gallons of water per minute. Once the finance and logistics were worked out between the Coast Guard and the USACE, members of the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific strike teams began to mobilize.
Twenty-one NSF members deployed November 3 from the Atlantic Strike Team at Ft Dix, NJ, on their way to Pier Six in Brooklyn, with seven pump systems and support gear. Under police escort from both the states of New Jersey and New York, the convoy arrived in about two hours and then dispatched one pump system to the Brooklyn Plaza tunnel entrance and began to load pumps and equipment onto a barge standing by to take the pump teams to Governor’s Island.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Siegmund, with the Pacific Strike Team, works the rigging of a submersible pump while conducting dewatering operations at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in New York City Nov. 9, 2012. The National Strike Force deployed members from all three strike teams to assist with the tunnel that flooded during Hurricane Sandy. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaclyn Young.
The Governor's Island situation was definitely an engineering challenge. Water needed to be pumped straight up through the tunnel's vent shafts. Because of the 120 - 150 foot vertical drop to the water level, NSF pumps were configured in tandem lines (meaning two submersible pumps pulling and pushing water on the same set of hose).
"Our partners in the U.S. Coast Guard played an important part in the effort to un-water [sic] the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel following Hurricane Sandy," said Ronald Pinzon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager. "The highly skilled and trained Coast Guard crews were essential to the removal of the tens of millions of gallons of salt water from the vehicular tunnel, which is a critical part of New York City's transportation infrastructure."
By November 4, the NSF was cumulatively pumping 6,000 gallons of water per minute out of the tunnel with two tandem lines on Governor’s Island and one pump operating at the Brooklyn Plaza entrance.
For 10 days, the NSF ran 24 hour operations, with a brief pause on Governor’s Island to let a Nor'easter through. When it was all said and done, NSF pumps had discharged approximately 30.6 million gallons of water in 118.5 hours of pump time.
"It was an awesome opportunity for us to exercise our equipment and test our unique NSF training along with all of our rate specific training,” said Chief Petty Officer Jeffry Boland, the Response Supervisor for the deployment. “It was great to use our training and experience to help the very appreciative people who were devastated by Sandy."
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