BREAKING: NY MTA: All Seven Subway Tunnels Flooded

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MTA head Joe Lhota at New York City Transit president Tom Prendergast inspecting flooding at the Battery. (Photo courtesy of MTA/Adam Lisberg)

(UPDATED with Lhota's comments on WNYC radio at 7:40 a.m.) The head of the New York MTA, Joe Lhota, has released the following statement -- which, as of this writing, is on the front page of the MTA's website.

"The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots. As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal."

Speaking Tuesday morning on WNYC radio, Lhota said that he wouldn't wait for the entire system to be operational before putting subway lines back into service -- hinting that the city could be looking phased-in service. But when asked when he thought the subways might be running, he wouldn't be pinned down. "It would be a scientific wild guess" to put a time on it before the true extent of the damage is ascertained, he said.

We'll be following this situation closely. More when we have it.

Brooklyn Heights Monday night (photo by Sherief Elkatsha)