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Burst Water Main At JFK Airport Floods International Terminal

A break in a water main at New York's JFK airport on Sunday prompted the evacuation of a flooded terminal, causing backups and delays at one of the country's busiest air hubs just as it was trying to get to normal operations after disruptions from a major snowstorm.

NPR's Amy Held reports that the water main broke at about 2 p.m. ET, halting international flights at Terminal 4.

Amy says it comes close on the heels of dozens of cancellations and delays over the weekend due to heavy snow.

"Television footage showed water gushing down the walls and flooding a baggage area," Amy says. "It happened after the Port Authority — which operates the airport — said the cold and snow had led to a cascading series of problems."

In a statement, Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton called the situation at the airport "unacceptable."

"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," Cotton said.

Speaking at a news conference, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said there was plenty of blame to go around for the airport's woes.

"Whether it's the runways not being plowed, whether it's the baggage machines that transport the baggage freezing, whether it's not notifying people what's going on," Schumer said.

According to The Associated Press, "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."

The New York Times reported:

"Kennedy Airport remained in disarray on Sunday, three days after New York City's first major snowstorm of 2018 disrupted operations. Since the storm, a lingering, bone-chilling cold and a series of missteps have contributed to a logjam that has left thousands of travelers stranded and caused hundreds of flights to be canceled or diverted.

The disorder at J.F.K., one of the world's busiest airports, rippled across the world, affecting passengers as far away as Beijing. Flights headed to New York were forced to turn back, and connecting flights that were only supposed to bring passengers to New York for a brief stay were grounded indefinitely."

Forty-year-old Adeola Dorris told the Times that she was trying to get home to Guyana but had been stranded at JFK since Saturday.

"When the flight was suspended, I literally cried," she said. "Because I'm here alone and I have nowhere to go. And you can't tell me when I'm going to get home. And I have to work tomorrow."

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