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Port Authority says it will "hold all responsible parties accountable" for JFK flood

JFK airport nightmare

NEW YORK -- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Monday it will investigate the water pipe break that added to the weather-related delays at Kennedy Airport and will "hold all responsible parties accountable." The agency said there were still some delays Monday, the day after a water pipe that feeds a sprinkler system in the privately operated Terminal 4 broke, causing water to flood the terminal and significantly disrupt operations. 

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said investigators want to determine "why an internal pipe was not weather protected and whether any other failures contributed to this disruption."   

Cotton held a press briefing Monday night saying that the incident this weekend was "completely and totally unacceptable."

Cotton added Monday: "The Port Authority is totally committed to investigate and review -- from the start of the storm through the frigid weather, through the inability of international flights to be taken timely into gates -- all the way through to today."

Cotton said earlier: "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. The Port Authority is committed to providing the highest caliber of service to all travelers and we will hold those responsible accountable for any shortcomings we find."

The pipe break sent about three inches of water gushing onto the floor of the terminal. Video shows streams cascading from a ceiling and people slogging through pools of water. 

JFK Airport struggles after winter storm

Power to the affected areas was temporarily shut off for safety reasons and additional staffing and busing operations were deployed to assist travelers, the Port Authority said. 

Domestic arrivals and departures and international departures from Terminal 4 experienced delays on Sunday. Some international flights destined for Terminal 4 were diverted or accommodated at other JFK terminals. In total, there were 352 delays and 46 cancellations at the airport, according to CBS New York

The situation added to the misery piled on travelers after a winter storm 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.

In a statement released before the water pipe break, the Port Authority said Saturday's cold "created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators." 

Passengers delayed for hours at New York's JFK airport

"These included frozen equipment breakdowns, difficulties in baggage handling, staff shortages and heavier than typical passenger loads," the statement said.

CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for a thorough review of what went wrong.

"It was very, very cold, so you cut them a little slack. But what happened at Kennedy Airport went way beyond cutting a little slack," Schumer said. "It seemed almost everything broke down. It seemed like a disaster."

The investigation is ongoing.

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