Superstorm Sandy blew the plastic sheet over the roof of the General Assembly building off and damaged the delegates’ entrance.
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Photo: Norway UN Mission/Hansine Korslien.Superstorm Sandy blew the plastic sheet over the roof of the General Assembly building off and damaged the delegates’ entrance. . Photo: Norway UN Mission/Hansine Korslien

Superstorm Sandy damages the UN

11/1/2012 // The UN reopened Thursday 1 November after being closed for three days. The effects of the storm Sandy caused water damages in the basement, a small fire, non-operational cooling system and technical challenges.

The location of the UN Headquarters by Manhatten's East River made the building subject to damage after the superstorm Sandy hit New York City.

Damages

“Tuesday morning it became evident that we had suffered pretty major damages at the United Nations. The storm surge was higher than anybody predicted. The water plummeted down the lower levels and the basement of the United Nations”, said Gregory B. Starr, Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security.

In addition to the flooding in the basement, the plastic sheet over the roof of the General Assembly building was blown off and the delegates’ entrance to the General Assembly was damaged.

See the pictures from the UN Headquarters here. The text continues below.

14 feet of water above normal

Water also flooded into the UN headquarters building, which went 14 feet above the normal level on Monday night. The basement up to 3B level of the General Assembly, Conference, Secretariat and North Lawn Buildings, approximately 350,000 square feet were flooded. The water covered the facilities at 3B, which include chiller rooms, garage parking and offices such as receiving and inspection, facilities management, transport, mail, printing plant, etc. (approximately 60,000 square feet).

The electricity switchboard was also flooded and a small fire started. For safety reason to prevent spread of fire, a complete power shutdown was instituted in the Secretariat building from Monday 7:00 pm. As result of the shutdown of the cooling system, the Primary Data Center became overheated and had to be shutdown on Monday night. Communications systems like data and phones were severely affected, as well as the UN’s webpage.

The UN’s webpage is now up and running again. Check it out here.

“There will not be major financial costs with the exterior. But loss of equipment will cost”, says Mr. Takasu Yukio, the Under-Secretary-General for Management in the UN.

The global work goes on

“The work around the world was not affected by the crises”, said Susana Malcorra, Chef de cabinet of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The UN has been partially operational the last few days. The Security Council met on Wednesday, using conference rooms in the neighboring North Lawn Building. The General Assembly hosted a plenary meeting on the International Court of Justice on Thursday.

The UN says no staff members suffered physical damage from the storm, but many delegates have evacuated temporarily from their homes.

“Although several of the staff suffered severe damages to their own homes, many stayed at work for the good of the larger global community”, said Malcorra.

Watch the press conference with UN officials discussing the effect of Sandy at UN Headquarters.


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