MTA officials spent $1.5 million of post-Sandy federal grant money on flood mitigation pumps that have never once been used, according to a new report — including at least two that sat idle at bus depots that suffered significant damage from Aug. 31 flash flooding from Hurricane Ida.
The 12 pump trucks bought with federal grant money in 2017 and delivered in 2018 have “not been maintained as required to keep them operational,” according to a report by MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny’s office, which was obtained by The Post.
Bus official used a federal grant to buy the pumps for depots that experienced significant flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — yet IG investigators found workers have never been taught to use them, according to the report. Training is currently scheduled for the end of this year, the report said.
“An inability to operate the pumps when needed effectively nullifies the reason for buying the pumps in the first place,” the report said. “According to depot staff responsible for operating the pumps should a flooding condition occur; they had not been trained on pump operation – nor had they even seen a pump being operated. This inexplicable lack of instruction not only leaves critical facilities at risk of flooding.”
Sources said the pumps sat unused on Aug. 31 at at least two depots that experienced significant flooding from Ida.
Video obtained by The Post from Casey Stengel Depot in Queens showed the facility’s parking lot inundated with about one to two feet of water, as drivers attempted to wade their cars through the sludge.
Another facility, Castleton Depot on Staten Island, saw four feet of flooding from Hurricane Ida that damaged 28 buses — 12 percent of the depot — and cost the MTA at least $8 million. Video posted by workers on YouTube showed the inside of the depot filled to the brim with brown sewer water and workers standing on barrels to avoid it.
Both MTA bus locations had a pump truck on site, sources said.
“It could have pumped it out of vital areas, absolutely,” said one bus source.
A “majority” of the buses are able to be repaired, an MTA spokesman said. Transit officials do not believe deploying the pump trucks would have averted flooding at either depot.
The money for the pumps came out of nearly $8 billion in federal grant money given to the MTA after Superstorm Sandy to shore up its flood infrastructure for extreme weather events.
“The trucks that were the subject of this audit are just one piece of a large ecosystem of hundreds of water pumps that are part of an expanded and upgraded climate change mitigation program,” the spokesman, Aaron Donovan, said in a statement. “That is why we can now rapidly pump out flooded sites on short notice.”
IG Pokorny’s office confirmed the authenticity of the report.
“The MTA received this expensive equipment to prevent significant flooding from recurring in bus depots. Buses’ not maintaining these pump trucks, or ever learning to use them, is an insult to New York’s taxpayers who are footing the bill,” Pokorny said in a statement.
“Given the frequency of extreme weather events, including two historic storms in the last few weeks, there is no denying that our climate has changed and the MTA must do a better job of maintaining resources specifically designed to protect its infrastructure.”
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