JFK Airport flooding adds to delays from winter weather

A water pipe break in one of the terminals at New York's Kennedy Airport on Sunday added to the delays at the beleaguered airport trying to recover from the aftermath of a snowstorm that has stranded thousands of passengers.

On Monday morning, a mountain of unclaimed baggage remained piled up inside one of the terminals as people were separated from their bags in the chaos. In a video shown by Fox 5 News, the bags appeared to number in the thousands.

In a statement, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey warned on Monday that there would still be delays at the airport.

The Port Authority said a water pipe that feeds a sprinkler system in the privately operated Terminal 4 broke at about 2 p.m., causing water to flood the terminal and significantly disrupt operations.

"What happened at JFK Airport is unacceptable, and travelers expect and deserve better," said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. "While the water pipe break that occurred appears to be weather-related, we have launched an investigation into the incident to determine exactly what occurred and why an internal pipe was not weather protected and whether any other failures contributed to this disruption."

The pipe break sent about three inches of water gushing onto the floor of the terminal. The video shows streams cascading from a ceiling and people slogging through pools of water.

Power to the affected areas was temporarily shut off for safety reasons and additional staffing and busing operations were deployed to assist travelers, the Port Authority said.

Domestic arrivals and departures and international departures from Terminal 4 were experiencing delays Sunday. Some international flights destined for Terminal 4 were being diverted or accommodated at other JFK terminals, the Port Authority said.

Following the storm, which blasted New York on Thursday, passengers were kept on planes and waited hours to retrieve luggage as flights were delayed and canceled, and a backup to get to terminal gates built up.

Carlos Koester, 52, was in New York for a week with his wife and two teens and just wanted to get home to Brazil.

"We love New York, but now we are stuck here. It's frustrating. The storm caught us and now we have been stranded here for 13 hours," Koester told the Daily News on Sunday.

In a statement released before the water pipe break, the Port Authority said Saturday's cold "created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators."

"These included frozen equipment breakdowns, difficulties in baggage handling, staff shortages and heavier than typical passenger loads," the statement said.

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