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Restoration at Bellevue Hospital could take weeks

Associated Press Modified: October 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm •  Published: October 31, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Flood damage at Bellevue Hospital is so extensive and severe that a full evacuation of patients was necessary, the president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation said Wednesday, adding that the facility would be "doing very well" if it's able to reopen in even two or three weeks.

The hospital had moved out more than 400 patients by Wednesday evening and hoped to have the remaining 300 evacuated by noon Thursday, HHC President Alan Aviles said.

Bellevue lost power during Monday night's massive storm and had been operating on backup generators since then. The National Guard helped carry some of the patients in more serious condition down as many as 18 flights of stairs, and on Wednesday, it became clear that the damage was so much that all of the patients needed out, Aviles said.

The "damage was so extensive that we will be unable to adequately power this building," Aviles said.

Water from the East River poured into the hospital's basement during the storm, rendering the water pumps as well as the fuel pumps that power the backup generators on a higher floor inoperable, Aviles said. Fuel had to be taken to the generators in a bucket-brigade endeavor because the elevators weren't working.

Even after removing 17 million gallons, there was still 2 ½ feet of water in the basement, he said.

Many hallways and rooms were dark and key medical equipment had been knocked out. Patients had to be taken out, floor-by-floor, via the stairs.

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