March 2014 - - American Council of Engineering Companies
New York Aquarium
Emergency Survey and Evaluation of Storm Damage from Hurricane Sandy - Preparation of FEMA Report
On October 29 2012, Superstorm Sandy’s surge overran carefully calibrated tanks with oily, debris-filled water, knocked out even backup power to all the exhibits and made it impossible to check on some of them for days. Damage to the facility is estimated at $65 million. The storm surge jumped the Coney Island Boardwalk pouring into the 45+ buildings on the 14-acre complex. The floodwaters cascaded down the stairs of the buildings, filling up basements with 10 to 15 feet of water, and flooded the ground floors with two to three feet. Generators were either damaged or useless because equipment needed to distribute their power was fried. The pump house that draws from the ocean to refresh the 1.5 million-gallon exhibits was out of commission, as were systems that treat the seawater, tailor it to different environments and maintain the oxygen levels, temperatures and water chemistry the aquarium’s 12,000 animals need.
The floodwaters had knocked out the aquarium’s electrical transformers and damaged its electrical distribution system and mechanical equipment. And it undermined the pumps and motors that operate critical life support systems for the fish. Staff members were able to stave off an evacuation, which had risks, by working around the clock to pump water out of basements and get emergency generators running.
Lizardos was engaged to send crews of engineers to survey, evaluate and assess the conditions of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, security and IT equipment and systems. The team prepared a comprehensive MEP Restoration Assessment report for submission to FEMA and the facility’s insurance company.
Lizardos identified and recommended possible mitigation strategies for MEP systems and equipment including:
- Relocation/elevation of equipment
- Concepts for alternate solutions to existing systems
- Centralized back up generation solutions
- Suggestions for flood-proof solutions for existing buildings
- Redundant MEP systems and distribution equipment