Bad Weekend at JFK Gets Worse with Flooding, Evacuations

NY Post - January 08, 2018

by Reuven Fenton and Tamar Lapin

A massive water main break at Kennedy Airport Sunday caused chaos and a shutdown of its international arrivals terminal — the latest in a series of misfortunes to befall travelers, some of whom have been stranded for days.

The flood resulted in the evacuation of Terminal 4’s arrivals area after also causing a power and heat outage and left frustrated passengers to flee without their luggage.

”The power is out, the terminal is flooded and it’s absolute chaos,” said Mohammed Ghlai, 48, visiting from London.

“This is my first time visiting New York, and I have to tell you, this has not been a very positive introduction,” he added.

Floods of water poured down from the ceilings and dozens of suitcases could be seen sitting in pools of water, with luggage carts floating in the ripples.

Workers took to floors with mops and even a state trooper armed with a rifle was seen pushing away water with a mop. About three inches quickly covered the ground

“I get off the plane and walk into a flood. What is this?” said Diego Riviera, who had just arrived with his wife from Panama City.

About an hour into the ordeal, the terminal had to be evacuated with airport workers warning that exposed wires could cause electrocution.

Some travelers were left without suitcases as they entered the frigid city while others waited for bags to appear on carousels at other terminals for hours.

“This is absolutely insane,” said Long Islander Ashley Ross, who had waited over five hours for her bags after a trip in Cancun.

“An airport isn’t supposed to be this way,” said Craig Monteith, 24, as he waited for his bags. “Particularly this airport, which should be the very model of what a modern airport can be. Come on!”

A Customs hall was also closed because of water cascading down from a ceiling but later reopened, a Port Authority spokesman said. Throngs of people made their way to the departure area upstairs, which was already crowded because of numerous flight delays.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people had filled the area with long lines weaving around at information kiosks, baggage drop-off and check-in lines.

The Port Authority said that extreme cold and the ongoing recovery from the snowstorm had “created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators.”

The city’s “bomb cyclone” shuttered JFK and LaGuardia for part of the day Thursday and more than a thousand flights were canceled. In all, there were 352 delays and 46 cancellations at JFK on Sunday.

Senator Chuck Schumer said the situation was “a disaster.”

With reporting by Shari Logan and Amanda Wood