Big Apple Reboots After Shutting Down For Irene

Aug 29, 2011
Originally published on August 29, 2011 5:35 am
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning Im David Greene. Renee Montagne is on assignment in Afghanistan.


And Im Steve Inskeep.

The nation's largest city works to return to business today after the flooding from Irene.

GREENE: New York took a direct hit from the storm. The destruction was not as awful in New York as some feared. Still, this is a metropolitan area of more than 19 million people.

INSKEEP: The city's transit lines shut down. Some rail lines were damaged. And today, there is the problem of getting millions of people to work.

We're just about through the morning rush hour and NPR's Joel Rose has been watching it all. Joel, where are you right now?

ROSE: Hi, Steve. I'm at the Lincoln Tunnel and it looks traffic looks heavy, as it has for much of the morning. But I have to say, I went in to the Port Authority bus terminal and talked to some commuters there. And they said this really hasn't been that bad of a commute this morning that they got in on the bus, just fine. Also, some subway commuters said the same thing the subway is running. There's limited service but people seem to be getting around. The biggest problems seem to be north of the city, in Metro North commuter rail territory. That service is still suspended, as is rail service on New Jersey Transit.

INSKEEP: Let me just define a couple of things for people who aren't too familiar with New York City. When your say the Lincoln Tunnel, that's one of the major tunnels that goes from New Jersey, under the Hudson River, into New York City. The Port Authority bus terminal is a major hub for bus service there. And you're saying that, at both those places, you haven't really encountered very many reports of problems today.

ROSE: No, that's correct. I mean, it sounds like the bus service in to the Port Authority is working surprisingly well, and I guess maybe we can assume from that, that people are staying home, or maybe commuting in late, or maybe telecommuting today. So, those are all possibilities.

INSKEEP: Oh, because the subway system is still not a hundred percent.

ROSE: No, but it does seem to be operating, and that's, you know, how the majority of New Yorkers get around. New Yorkers don't have cars, for the most part, they're very reliant on mass transit, and, you know, the city is quite paralyzed when the subway system is down. But, it's operating, as of this morning.

INSKEEP: Now Joel, I want to ask about New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. He was criticized, of course, last year for not preparing enough for a snow storm. This time they made extensive preparations, and the storm was what it was. How've people reacted.

ROSE: Well, there's certainly some criticism out there, of Mayor Bloomberg and the administration. As you say, they seemed under-prepared for those big snowstorms last year. They did not want to be prepared for this hurricane and took great precautions to evacuate more than 300,000 people in from low-lying areas for what turned out to be, in the five boroughs, at least, pretty much just a heavy rain storm. There is a lot of criticism of the mayor, but he, you know, preempted some of it yesterday, at his news conference, by saying, look, we feel we made the right calls given what the forecasts were and we would do the exact same thing again.

INSKEEP: OK Joel, thanks very much.

ROSE: My pleasure.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Joel Rose in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.