That Bellevue Hospital lasted this long without a full-scale evacuation is remarkable, seeing as how it’s been keeping the lights on via bucket brigade since the backup power system failed in Sandy’s flood. On Wednesday night, the hospital’s administration announced it would shut the building down and fully evacuate it, which sounds like it will be a relief to the National Guard troops who have been manually hauling fuel up 14 floors to power the generators.
As the New York Daily News explains, the hospital put its generators on the 13th floor precisely to avoid having them flood in a disaster, but the pumps that get fuel to those generators are in the basement, which is still swamped with 2.5 feet of water, so they shorted out. Even with the National Guard bucket brigade things have been difficult, Health and Hospitals Corporation president Alvin Aviles said at a news conference, per the New York Times. He “described third-world conditions, with no hot water, no lab or radiology services and pails of water hauled up the stairs to use for flushing toilets.” That makes two bucket-stair combinations by our count: One for fuel and one for toilet water. “If we can get this hospital back up within two to three weeks we will be doing really well,” Aviles said.