Court Square subway station flood nearly sweeps man onto tracks

Wednesday's storm caused flooding at the Court Square-23rd Street subway station in Long Island City.
Wednesday’s storm caused flooding at the Court Square-23rd Street subway station in Long Island City. Photo Credit: Newsday/Nancy Borowick

Water surging into a Queens subway station nearly swept a man onto the tracks and into the path of an oncoming train Wednesday evening.

Filthy stormwater breached a plywood construction wall on a platform of the Court Square-23rd Street station in Long Island City, seeming to knock the commuter off his feet, according to a video of the scene posted to social media.

The platform and other parts of the station were inundated after the evening rush hour because an outside contractor failed to follow safety protocols to keep water from building up at an adjacent private development, according to MTA spokesman Shams Tarek.

“This was an absolutely unacceptable and avoidable incident caused by a contractor working on a residential development project that could have put lives at risk,” said Tarek in a statement. “We have already begun taking steps to make sure the developer and contractor are held accountable and this doesn’t happen again.”

The commuter in the video is filmed lying straight on his back on the Court Square platform, apparently knocked over from the sheer force of the brown water pouring from the broken plywood wall. Ankle-high water continues to surge as he struggles to stand up while clutching his bags— mere feet from the platform edge as a train pulls into the station.

The contractor, John Civetta & Sons, is building a new residential tower near Court Square, as well as a new entrance and elevator for the station. Its construction site did not have a proper pumping system in place to act as a temporary drainage system during the intense thunderstorms that brought flash-flood advisories across the city, according to Tarek.

The plywood breach was believed to have occurred shortly before 8 p.m., but the authority doesn’t appear to know exactly when because a report was not filed at the time.

Tarek said the MTA has met with the contractor to discuss the alarming incident. John Civetta & Sons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Transit officials met with the contractor and secured numerous measures to address this immediately: the contractor agreed to restore proper pumping to the worksite, agreed to build additional protections around its worksite including a dam and a new wall and waterproofing, and agreed to have more personnel on site during major storm events,” Tarek continued.

The MTA will also boost staff at the station during similar storms, Tarek said.