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UN Headquarters Hit by Storm, 'Work Continues'

  • Margaret Besheer

United States President Barack Obama addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters, September 25, 2012.

United States President Barack Obama addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters, September 25, 2012.

The iconic U.N. headquarters on New York's East River sustained flooding during Hurricane Sandy and remains closed for a second day.

The 38-story U.N. Secretariat building has been undergoing a nearly $2-billion renovation for the past three years. But Sandy threatened to undo some of that work.

One official says the basement sustained serious flooding and the machines that provide air circulation to the facility are broken, throwing into doubt whether staff will be able to return Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said despite closures, the organization's work continues, including the U.N.'s efforts to bring peace to Syria.

"The secretary-general is in Korea. As you are aware, [Syrian envoy] Lakhdar Brahimi has been traveling to Russia and then to China this week," said Haq. "And of course, we have U.N. offices and compounds all over the world, including our main offices in Geneva and Nairobi, and elsewhere. So the work of the United Nations is continuing, but at the same time, our ability to function out of the headquarters compound has been curtailed over the last few days."

The United Nations compound is near New York University Hospital along the same waterfront avenue. The hospital lost power, and hundreds of patients were evacuated to other area hospitals after backup generators failed Monday during the storm.

Hurricane Sandy left large sections of the city and neighboring New Jersey State flooded. Most businesses and schools are closed in the region, and government officials are urging people to stay home while recovery crews work to re-open transportation and restore electricity.
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