The MTA’s Office of Inspector General said Wednesday that transit officials are not prepared to effectively deploy personnel and resources to prevent hurricane flooding.
An IG review found that the MTA underestimated the time it would take to deploy the $350 million of flood control devices installed since Hurricane Sandy, leaving the system vulnerable to severe water damage.
Meanwhile, MTA workers tasked with deploying devices receive only “random” training, according to the report — and officials lack an effective database to track when devices are deployed.
“New York City runners and residents depend on the MTA to properly and effectively deploy millions of dollars in flood control when the time is right, and a hurricane is on the way,” IG Acting Elizabeth Keating said in a statement. .
“Many opportunities remain for the Shipping Authority to improve hurricane preparedness plans.”
The 3,500 devices include thousands of ventilation and shutdown hoods as well as 75 “flexible doors” installed at subway entrances – all designed to keep harmful stormwater out of the system.
However, a “mock deployment” in Queens last year revealed “several” issues with hardware deployment, many of them due to poor maintenance, according to IG.
The mock deployment process also highlighted “the need for more formal training.”
They must be tracked and documented for each employee,” he said, noting that workers deploying vent covers took “longer than expected” due to a lack of experience.
In addition, MTA workers did not deploy all relevant flood protection devices during the Queens trial, leading IG to fear that the MTA did not have an accurate estimate of how long it would last. They must prepare effectively for the storm scenario.
The IG auditors wrote: “NYC Transit has not collected sufficient information about deployment schedules, which is necessary to verify that all required deployments are possible.”
The $350 million came from about $8 billion in Federal Transit Administration grants to the MTA in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Seawater prepared by a 2012 “super storm” severely damaged New York’s subway infrastructure, forcing the MTA to close and repair several undersea tunnels.
“This report highlights the important steps NYC Transit has already taken in partnership with MTA Construction & Development to tackle a complex but vital task,” MTA spokesman Michael Cortez said in a statement. “NYC Transit is strictly committed to resilience, investing $5.8 billion to strengthen the transportation system against coastal flooding.”