U.S. NEWS
01/07/2018 05:04 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2018

Water Main Break At JFK Airport Causes Flood, Soaks Baggage Claim Area

John F. Kennedy Airport also rerouted arriving international flights from one of its terminals.

A water main break at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Sunday caused major flooding, including in a baggage claim area, adding to the turmoil caused by weather-related flight delays in recent days.

The official Twitter account for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey tweeted news of the break, which also led to a shutdown of international arrivals into Terminal 4. A frozen standpipe main was the source of the flooding, which occurred just before 2 p.m. local time, ABC 7 New York reported. Maintenance crews were deployed to mop up the west end of the terminal, which saw about three inches of flooding, according to a Port Authority spokesman.

“Passengers who have already arrived are being deplaned and taken to other terminals for processing,” the spokesman said in a statement. “There has been no impact on departures and [the airport shuttle] as far as we know. ... We are asking customers to call their carriers for updates on flight information.”

Even before the water main break, the Port Authority issued a statement on Sunday on how the recovery from severe weather had disrupted the airport.

“Yesterday’s extreme cold, amid the recovery from Thursday’s storm, created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators,” the statement said. “These included frozen equipment breakdown, difficulties in baggage handling, staff shortages, and heavier than typical passenger loads.” 

Terminal 4 is a major hub for international travel at JFK airport. Hundreds of bags have been lined up, CNN reported, with travelers sleeping next to their suitcases. 

Stephanie Abrams, a metrologist for the Weather Channel, tweeted a video reporting she landed at the airport and made it through customs just before authorities closed down the passport control area. 

“We were waiting for our luggage, and the lights started to go off,” Abrams said in the video.“So we left in the dark, they made everyone leave immediately. They said ’you’re not going to get any luggage, so everyone has to get out of here.” 

Abrams video showed water on the ground in the arrivals area of the terminal and the chaos as travelers attempted a mass exodus from the airport.

This story has been updated with the cause of the flooding.

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