Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Its storm surge hit New York City on October 29, flooding streets, tunnels, and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Damage in the US is estimated at over $71 billion (2012 USD).

Superstorm Sandy devastated not only property and equipment, but also the lives of untold numbers of persons living in the metropolitan area, laying their hopes, dreams, families, homes, and belongings to waste. Although forecasts warned of the pending storm surge, no one individual could have ever imagined the extent and completeness of the devastation. Passenger / service / freight elevators, escalators, material lifts, sidewalk elevators, moving walks, dumbwaiters, and mail-handling systems were all affected by the storm surge. An estimated 5,000 devices were damaged in the five boroughs of NYC because of Superstorm Sandy; however, for the purpose of this paper we will concentrate on elevators. Presently, there are numerous agencies with committees / task forces attempting to identify and deal with the following:

• Prevent water contamination of major equipment components
• Minimize accessibility to equipment by water
• Minimize damage to equipment contaminated by water
• Survivability of systems upon contact with water
• Minimize work (recovery time) and costs associated with repairs

It is obvious that the above items can be dealt with at an acceptable level when dealing with new construction, however, existing installations are difficult (if not impossible) to reconfigure to meet all of the desired results.

There can be varying scopes of work developed to restore elevators to service each one based on the needs of the facility and extent of damage. Where a considerable number of elevators are available in buildings, a phased approach provided the fastest recovery time for repopulation of a building. Three (3) phases of work were developed for buildings meeting those specific qualifications and demands, and the extent of the work was determined by whether or not the elevator platforms were submerged in water.

As a result of the devastation to buildings, their infrastructure and the costs associated with recovery, virtually all of the affected states and/or individual municipalities have established committees or task forces to analyze the damage and develop the means and methods that may be implemented to minimize the extent of the damage and subsequent costs. A good starting point for this task is information available from FEMA that addresses steps that may be taken primarily in new construction with some aspects that may be applied to existing installations.

It is “relatively” easy, although expensive; to deal with the immediate effects of water damage to the elevator equipment once the supporting infrastructure of the building has been restored. Other municipalities/ states have experienced salt water events; however, there do not appear to be any available reports on negative impact to component parts over the long-term. It is expected that adverse conditions may not present themselves for quite some time and that building Owners and Contractors will need to monitor pit steel, steel rails, rail attachments, buffers, sheaves, supports, platforms, and slings to determine if the steel begins to deteriorate. It should be expected that additional work and costs associated with the maintenance and repair of steel components subjected to the storm surge of Superstorm Sandy will continue for years to come as conditions change and present themselves over time.

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