JFK Airport terminal evacuated because of massive water main break

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Full flight activity has resumed at JFK Airport's Terminal 4 after a water main break caused chaos and suspended global arrivals. Thousands of flights were cancelled because of the winter storm, leaving many travellers stranded at the airport for days. The Federal Aviation Administration said the planes touched while the China Southern plane was being towed to a taxiway and the Kuwait Airways plane was at the gate awaiting departure. Residual delays were expected.

New Jersey and New York's port authority said there are so many flights that have been reschedueled since the snowstorm, they do not have enough gates to handle the reschedueled flights.

Prior to the flooding incident, JFK Airport was forced to close Terminal 1 at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, as "extreme cold, amid the ongoing recovery from [the Jan. 4 blizzard], created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators", PANYNJ said in a Jan. 7 statement (prior to the T4 water main break).

Staffers were on scene working to restore power.

"What happened at JFK Airport is unacceptable, and travelers expect and deserve better", saide Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. "But what is not clear is why the pipe was not weather protected".

The burst pipe caused 3 inches of water to flood the arrivals area of Terminal 4, which services Delta and 30 worldwide airlines, before it cascaded onto the roadway, where it froze, Cotton said.

The inner roadway at the arrivals area was closed due to excess water, but the outer roadway remained open.

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It all "resulted in terminal operators and airlines experiencing delays in getting planes and their passengers into their gates", according to the statement. New York's JFK International Airport, as this weekend clearly demonstrated, is decidedly not one of those airports. One plane even clipped another outside a terminal amid the hard conditions early Saturday.

Passengers complained of being stranded on the tarmac for hours and then facing lengthy delays in baggage claim that made travelling, particularly with babies or the elderly, a misery. They hauled their suitcases back to Kennedy on Monday morning, hoping they could manage to get to Venice by Wednesday, even if it might mean buying pricey new tickets.

Frustrated travelers were posting on social media from inside JFK, showing the crowds of people waiting for flights.

"I can understand: Yeah, it's a mess because of the weather". You have little kids, you have animals. "There's a big lack of information".

Flight operations resumed Monday, with significantly fewer cancellations and delays reported.

"Television footage showed water gushing down the walls and flooding a baggage area", Amy says. "We were told to leave the airport yesterday without ours", flier Lucy Wilkinson fumed in a tweet Monday. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said there was plenty of blame to go around for the airport's woes. Now the Port Authority is launching an investigation into how a water pipe that feeds the sprinkler system could burst and cause such huge problems.

Americans Airlines had 18 percent of its Saturday flights delayed, and 22 percent of its flights delayed on Sunday, while Delta Airlines had 17 percent of its flights delayed Saturday, and 19 percent Sunday.

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