By Holly Dutton
Construction at the World Trade Center resumed this week after floodwaters poured into the site during Hurricane Sandy.
The day after the storm the decimated much of the tri-state area, Silverstein Properties said inspectors examined the company’s three building sites along the eastern portion of the WTC site.
According to the company, all of the construction cranes at the site are in “working order,” no structural damage occurred at any of Silverstein’s WTC towers, including 4WTC, which remains on schedule to be completed in 2013.
Inspectors reported no damage to mechanical systems, including a major electrical room beneath WTC2, which supplies power to each of Silverstein’s towers. The basement levels of towers 2, 3 and 4 had water pumped out, but the company said it isn’t expected to impact the “overall construction schedule.”
Governor Cuomo said Monday that crews had completely drained water that flooded the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Sixteen million gallons — or seven feet of water — was pumped out after pouring into the Museum Oct. 29.
Cuomo said 750 construction workers have resumed work at Ground Zero. Ninety-five percent of the water from the storm surge at the 16-acre site in Lower Manhattan had been pumped out by Monday when the giant cranes were back in action at 1WTC and the PATH transit hub.
Once it was safe to do so, crews from the Port Authority of NY and NJ, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began pumping water from the site.
The PATH transit hub is the last major water pumping operation still ongoing, and is expected to be dry within the next day or two, according to Port Authority officials. The PATH track bed and Vehicle Security Center was the entry place for the storm surge.
Teams are currently working on small amounts of water in pocketed areas with debris left to clean up.
The 9/11 Memorial at the WTC site reopened Tuesday, Nov. 6, with limited operations.
According to its website, the Memorial will temporarily operate under daily hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. while recovery continues at the WTC site. The number of daily visitors will be limited and accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Joe Daniels, president and CEO of the 9/11 Memorial, said in a statement that despite “extensive” flooding of the Museum site, most of the Museum’s collection is “safe off site,” though a few large artifacts already in the Museum are being monitored closely.
In the days leading up to the storm, the Port Authority took action to secure the WTC site.
The agency worked with its partners – Silverstein Properties, Tishman Construction, Tishman-Turner Construction, the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, Judlau and Guardian – to take precautionary measures, including placing thousands of sandbags at the site to protect equipment, securing all construction materials and equipment, including cranes at 1WTC and 4WTC, and tying down debris on floors 88 and above.
Pumping equipment and generators were tested beforehand as well. The site was also equipped with drainage and alarm systems that alerted staff once moisture seeped into electrical areas.
Images of water pouring into the WTC site quickly went viral in the days following Hurricane Sandy, leading many to believe grave damage had occurred.
Silverstein spoke about damage to the site on Bloomberg Television’s show “Money Moves” on Friday, Nov. 2, four days after Hurricane Sandy waterlogged Lower Manhattan.
When asked about the extent of damage, the veteran developer was optimistic. “You know, I suspect it looks a lot worse than it is,” he said. “The full damage estimate will be fully known when the water’s out.”
He added that the damage to 2WTC and 4WTC was “very minimal.”
Silverstein said all his company’s buildings have emergency generators, which were used at 7WTC before power was restored.
“I suspect without much time, things will come into order rather quickly,” said Silverstein.