United Nations: The United Nations headquarters overlooking the East River suffered "major damage" as the megastorm Sandy caused heavy flooding in the world body's complex, the UN security chief has said. (Agencies)
The expansive UN building in the heart of Manhattan reopened on Thursday after remaining closed since Monday in the wake of the storm, which crippled life along the US East Coast and resulted in deaths of over 80 people as well as significant economic damage.
UN officials assessed the damage to the property after the storm had passed and said the "most serious damage" has been due to flooding and high wind, which affected communications and other infrastructure.
"Tuesday morning it became evident that we had suffered pretty major damage in the United Nations due to the unprecedented weather event," UN Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security Gregory Starr told reporters.
"The storm surge, which was higher than anyone predicted, came over the FDR Drive, came into the service drive at the basement level of the United Nations, rose above our loading dock levels of the basement and then started plummeting down into the lower levels of the United Nations," he said.
Starr said the storm and the subsequent flooding damaged the UN's chilled-air plant system and other electrical operations.
"We are not back to full operations," he said. "We clearly have some damage to our communications systems."
Under-Secretary General for Management Yukio Takasu said a small fire broke out in the area that houses the electrical switchboard after it was flooded, and power to the entire UN complex had to be shut off as a safety measure.
Giving further details of the damage caused to the UN building, Takasu said a plastic sheet that covers the top of the UN General Assembly hall was torn off and the front entrance to the GA building also suffered damage.
Parts of the UN communications system were "severely disrupted" and the website was also compromised.
Starr said the UN printing shop was also badly damaged by flooding, though the archival documents at the UN were secure.
The main cooling system area was flooded and had to be shut down.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has written to President Barack Obama and spoken to the Presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to express his solidarity and to pledge assistance of the UN in the recovery effort, his spokesperson said in a statement.
United Nations: The United Nations headquarters overlooking the East River suffered "major damage" as the megastorm Sandy caused heavy flooding in the world body's complex, the UN security chief has said.