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New York reels from hurricane Sandy: 'Unprecedented ... is what we got.'

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The mayor might be overly optimistic. Con Edison uses the subway tunnels for many of its cables and some of those tunnels are now filled with salt water. The worst damage was in lower Manhattan, where, as a result of the storm surge, the Hudson River topped its banks on one side of the island and the East River on the other.

“When you fill a subway tunnel loaded with electrical cables with salt water, that is a bad combination,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing.

The water filling the tunnels also meant that the subways might be out for some time. Officials said some stations had water all the way to their ceilings.

“This is the most devastating thing we’ve ever had happen,” said Joseph Lhota, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at a press briefing.

One indication of the challenges facing the MTA: a 40-foot powerboat was washed across the railroad tracks that bring commuters into New York.

In fact through Tuesday, Amtrak, which connects with Boston and Washington, still had no train service in or out of New York City.

The only bright spot for mass transit was the bus system. The city’s buses were moved to high ground before the height of the storm and did not suffer any losses. Limited bus service was expected to resume Tuesday evening with full service on Wednesday.

The city’s subway cars were also moved in advance to secure locations, so once the tunnels are safe for passengers, service can begin again.

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