UN opens headquarters as Hurricane Sandy ends

The East River, shown from Manhattan’s East River Park, had already swollen to its bank by 11 a.m. on October 29. Pic: David Shankbone

New York – Staffers returned on Thursday to the UN headquarters with many challenges such as security entrances destroyed and the General Assembly building stripped of its protective covering with no communication.

All were victims of the wrath superstorm Sandy waged on New York City.

Senior UN officials in briefings on Thursday said that on Sunday the complex was ordered closed as Sandy barreled up the Atlantic Ocean along the US eastern seaboard towards New York after clobbering parts of the Caribbean last week.

They said they acted in consultation with local authorities and all city bus and subway service had been ordered suspended because of the storm.

Staffers would find it well near impossible to get to work.

Staff that was able to report for duty on Thursday not only found challenges at work but still had a challenge getting to work. Subway service in the metropolis was limited and driving was near impossible with severe gridlock, despite restrictions on only cars with three or more people allowed to cross city bridges into Manhattan.

There were many empty desks both in the compound and in satellite offices around the East Side of Manhattan, officials said. The homes of many UN employees suffered flood, wind damage or electricity loss.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon escaped the storm’s fury. He was in the Republic of Korea and returned to New York on Wednesday.

The 6.84-hectare UN complex adjacent to Manhattan’s East River and inland satellite offices was closed for an unprecedented three days because of the weather.

Returning UN staffers found the white plastic sheeting placed over the GA hall’s dome ripped off, the white tent-like security canopy at the delegate’s entrance demolished.

They also soon discovered their telephones, internet and in some cases their lighting, incapacitated if not working at all. Officials said they expected such problems repaired during the day.
– SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua