Hurricane Sandy was "Largest Mass Transit Disaster in our Nation's History," Says Senator

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Snapped catenary poles on NJ Transit's Gladstone line (photo courtesy of NJ Transit)

At an emotional hearing today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, senators representing storm-damaged states described the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said his state was the "epicenter" of the storm. He listed Sandy's toll upon New Jersey -- 39 dead, 231,000 homes and businesses damaged. And included in his list: the impact of the storm upon the region's transit system.

"The storm was the largest mass transit disaster in our nation's history. Four out of 10 of the nation's transit riders had their commutes disrupted by the storm, many still today," said Menendez. "NJ Transit alone had dozens of locomotives and rail cars damaged in the flooding and miles and miles of tracks damaged."

NJ Transit still has a rail line that is not operational, and the Port Authority says it will be weeks before it can restore Hoboken service on its trans-Hudson PATH train line.

New Jersey is requesting $37 billion in federal disaster aid, of which $1.35 billion would go to transit, roads and bridges.

Watch the archived hearing here.