Critical Infrastructure Disruption in USA on January 08 2018 04:19 AM (UTC).
A water main break flooded a baggage claim area at JFK International Airport in New York on Sunday afternoon, compounding flight cancellations and other headaches caused by the cold wave. Water flowed into Terminal 4, soaking stranded travelers' luggage and forcing a partial evacuation of the terminal, the major arrival point for international travelers. Incoming flights to Terminal 4 were shut down for several hours. A pipe feeding the terminal's sprinkler system broke around 2 p.m. ET, sending water into the arrivals and customs inspection areas of the terminal, Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said at a news conference. Power was cut off as a safety precaution. He said the arrivals area and customs office should reopen within several hours. "What happened at JFK Airport is unacceptable, and travelers expect and deserve better," Cotton said, promising an investigation into the flooding. He noted that delays could last for days. The airport was already jammed with frustrated travelers whose flights were delayed or canceled by the bitter cold that has gripped the East Coast for days. Passengers reported spending hours sitting on the tarmac before deplaning, then spending hours and sometimes days inside the terminal waiting for flights. Luggage covered large sections of the airport floor. "It's very hectic," said Andrew Westrem, 28, who traveled home to New York from Los Angeles. "I see other people upset but there's not much you can do. You're at the mercy of weather." He has a flight to Europe on Monday and hoped to be reunited with his bags before that. Reygie Papasin, 32, arrived from the Philippines and is scheduled to fly to Miami on Monday. When asked what he plans to do, Papasin said, "I just hope I can get my luggage." This is his first time in the United States. The temperature was around 15 degrees when the flooding started. Video showed standing water in a large section of the terminal and water cascading down a wall in an arrival area. Power was turned off in parts of Terminal 4. Conveyer belts stopped working on some luggage carousels and travelers were instructed to pick up their bags in another part of the terminal. The arrival area was cordoned off while employees swept water off the floor. The New York City Fire Department responded, but no cause of the leak has been provided. No injuries were reported. Cotton said water also reached a road outside the terminal, which was closed because of icing. Around 3:30 p.m., the airport announced via Twitter that international flights into Terminal 4 had been shut down. Departures were not affected. Around 7:45 p.m., the airport tweeted that incoming flights would be allowed again, but "residual delays" were expected. JFK advised passengers to check with their airline prior to arriving at the airport. Terminal 4 is "the major gateway for international arrivals at JFK airport. It serves as a major international hub for Delta Airlines," the airport website says. Around 8 p.m. ET Sunday, 55 flights out of JFK had been canceled and about 200 delayed, according to Flight Aware, a flight tracking website. On Saturday alone, 94 flights were canceled at JFK, the New York Port Authority said.