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Hoboken PATH station 'weeks' from reopening

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

The actions of one employee may have lessened some of the damage.

Pump operator Tom O'Neill, who spent 10 days on-site even as his family's house on the New Jersey shore was without power from the storm, submerged himself in the murky water to open a pump that was clogged. Kingsberry called him "our hero."

"I know where the valves are at; I could feel them with my feet," O'Neill said. "It was cold. You're at that point where your adrenaline is flowing and you need to get that pump flowing. It is dangerous, and it might not have been the right thing to do, but the first defense was to get the water out. Then everybody else can do their job."

It took about a week to get all the water out of the tracks and platforms. Then came the task of replacing and repairing equipment, some of which is 80 years old. Cables and other equipment have to be tested to make sure they can handle the amount of electricity coursing through the system.

Kingsberry said walls and stairways leading down to the station's platforms are being shored up, and the nerve center's walls will be reinforced and a water-tight door will be installed. Beyond that, the Port Authority said it is considering a host of additional measures.

"We are assessing existing PATH infrastructure to see what can be modified now to have greater resiliency," the agency said in an email. "All capital projects going forward for PATH will incorporate storm surge and other mitigation including consideration of floodgates, balloons in tunnels and higher location for electrical, switching and communications equipment."

The New York City's massive subway system was also ravaged by Sandy. But within a week, 80 percent of service had been restored.

In the wake of Sandy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for improvement to old infrastructure and systems.

"We have an old infrastructure and we have old systems, and that is not a good combination," Cuomo said days after the storm. "And that's one of the lessons I'm going to take from this, personally."