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After storm managers rescue flooded buildings.

After the violent North eastern storm ripped through the New York area, building managers were busy administering aid to severely damaged building utilities and directing hundreds of emergency personnel.

The Wall Street area took particularly bad hits as water streamed over seawalls and into basements when 90 mile per hour winds pushed the waters of Long Island Sound into the East River.

REW spoke to managers at Cushman & Wakefield and the Edward S. Gordon Company about their roundthe-clock efforts to get the large Downtown buildings they manage back on course.

"There are still bluefish swimming in the streets," laughed John Griffin, director of management with Edward S. Gordon Company, late last week.

At 55 Water Street, he said, the major tenant, Chemical Bank has 1 million square feet. One Con Edison vault became flooded and while the building has an emergency generator that ran "flawlessly," ESG needed to bring some additional power into the Chemical check processing area.

Power was obtained from an unused vault on the other side of the building and was rerouted in time to make a 3 a.m. Sunday morning deadline.

"We were coordinating with hundreds of electricians to get three floors functional," explained Griffin.

Cushman and Wakefield manages 100 Wall Street, a 29-story' 460,000square-foot building that opened in 1969. The high tide flooded that building's basement also through the Con Edison service network.

Two and a half feet of water affected the electrical distribution system, explained Kevin McCann, a senior portfolio manager with Cushman & Wakefield, which also has offices in the building.

While Con Edison suffered the majority of the damage and had to replace its entire building network, 100 Wall Street also lost its power and certain motors and braces.

Credit Suisse, the largest tenant, was the only tenant that lost its telephone service as its switches were in the basement. "Fortunately,"

McCann noted, they were in the process of "updating their technology." Emergency generators on site could not be used until the basement was pumped out to ensure it would not damage certain equipment hooked up under the water. While the power was out from Friday morning, the emergency generators operated from Saturday until Wednesday night.

"We received power back by Wednesday but kept the generators on for 24 hours to make sure nothing went wrong," McCann explained. The generators ensured the building had some elevators, and lights in stairwells and some of the tenants tied into the generators, as well. Among those were Swiss American Securities which was able to keep its trading operational and Cushman & Wakefield. "The attitude of the tenants was good,' McCann said.

The building was able to respond with its own personnel and some outside contractors including General Plumbing and Benjamin Electric. They were also fortunate, McCann said, that the bulk of the mechanical equipment is on the 12th and 13th floors.

Transplant Needed

A few doors away, 88 Pine Street wasn't so lucky and needed what Griffin described as "major heart replacement surgery." The 560,000-square-foot, 32-story building, constructed in 1973 counts Frank B. Hall, Mellon Bank and China Trust Bank among its tenants. They all were affected when flood water spoured into a Con Edison vault and from there, into the basement of the building.

The electrical switchboard room, telephone room, and all mechanical equipment below grade were completely destroyed. 'It totally flooded it out,' Griffin said. Elevator pits also filled with water and equipment was damaged.

Since the Con Ed vault was flooded, the utility workers could not shut the electric off at that point and could not shut it off somewhere else without shutting off the other buildings on the network.

"It ultimately shorted out and de, stroyed the total electrical system," Griffin said. "It melted the Con Ed switches into a mass of copper with sparks and explosions to go with it.'

Frank Rella, the building manager on site, was put immediately on 12-hour shifts. "He's the mayor of that building and all the tenants need him as a contact," Griffin explained.

The tenants were called at home on Friday night and Saturday morning and told Monday would be very difficult. "We alerted them so they didn't have all their people come in needlessly and if they needed to take critical material out of the building they could do so," he added.

An emergency generator, installed five years ago by the owner in preparation for just such an event, immediately began running two elevators, the emergency stairwell lighting and other critical items in the building.

Gas driven pumps to suck out the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water had to be used before they could even see the damage.

The following day, Griffin said, it was obvious the entire electrical system had to be replaced. 'We immediately ordered in two emergency tractor trailers with generators and wired up the building,' he said. 'We literally rolled up our own power company to the sidewalk."

All new major electrical switches were made overnight and then had to be installed below the ground floor.

The other problem, he noted, was that all the essential water pumps, for building toilets and other water, were under water. Some 150 horsepower pumps and had to be completely rebuilt in the shop and were bolted in simultaneously while the electric cables were being brought in.

"We had to rebuild this building frora an absolute raw disaster to a completely functioning building in three days," Griffin added.' With the experience and personnel: for managing 25 million square feet of property, ESG's numerous resources and contacts were brought into play.

Walking around in waders and blue jeans throughout the weekend, Griffin described the experience as "absolutely amazing.

On Wednesday morning, at 9 a.m., the building was in the middle of switching over to the Con Ed feeder and had three elevators out of 18 working when the tenants began streaming in. Megaphones were used to maintain order and portable radios were used inside the elevators that were being operated manually.

By Monday morning of this week, Griffin expected to be off the generator and back on line completely with Con Edison, ready for the next battle down the road .
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Title Annotation:commercial building managers tend to flood-damaged buildings in New York, New York following violent storm
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 23, 1992
Previous Article:Owners prepare for porters strike.
Next Article:Con Ed hikes under fire.

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