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MTA tests inflatable 'plug' it hopes can shield NYC subway from weather disasters

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MTA NYC subway inflatable plug
MTA NYC subway inflatable plug

After the unprecedented damage to New York City's transit system brought on by Hurricane Sandy, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been looking into near-term solutions that could shield subway tunnels from flood waters come next storm season. It tested one of those safeguards yesterday for the first time by inflating a 30-foot plug (designed by the US Department of Homeland Security) that could effectively seal off New York's subways in the event of a natural disaster. The test run took place at the South Ferry station in Manhattan — one of eight stations consumed by flooding in Sandy's aftermath.

Incoming MTA chairman Tom Prendergast told the Associated Press that there are 540 spots in lower Manhattan alone that allow water to come in. Should an emergency situation arise, officials could use the inflatable plug to block off stairwells and ventilation grates that are easily flooded. The MTA is hoping to have the plug ready for use city-wide by the end of 2013's hurricane season or, worst case, by the time storms begin in 2014. New York's subways still haven't recovered from the devastating storm; the MTA yesterday announced the formation of a Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Division to further push along that effort.