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Image: Fallen branches pepper downtown Manhattan
John Minchillo  /  AP
Fallen branches peppered downtown Manhattan after Tropical Storm Irene passed over the region, Sunday.
By
updated 8/28/2011 9:54:11 PM ET 2011-08-29T01:54:11

The New York City subway system will be up and running for the start of the work week Monday morning, transit officials said, but some pieces of the country's largest transit system will remain idle while inspectors check for any damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority shut down all subways, buses and commuter trains Saturday in preparation for the storm. It was the first time a natural disaster ever closed the system down. On any given week day, New York City's subways cart about 5 million people, and commuters were left wondering how they would get to work.

After the storm came and left Sunday afternoon, limited city bus service started, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Jay Walder said subway service would start up at 6 a.m. Monday.

They said service will be less frequent than normal and customers should expect longer waits and more crowded trains. Frequency of service will improve over the course of the day.

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Meanwhile, damage assessments were continuing on the MTA'a Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, which were hit hard by flooding and mudslides.

Video: Irene only got a little bite out of the Big Apple (on this page)

Before their annoucement, commuters were wondering how they would get around a city where most don't have cars and depend on public transit.

Domingo Diaz, 24, who lives in Brooklyn but works in SoHo, was asking a few of the neighborhood car service drivers what they planned to charge to take people into Manhattan on Monday. One quoted him a price of $65, which is at least $20 more than the usual rate.

He said the decision to stop the subways as the storm approached was "the smart call."

The limited bus service started up, first in Manhattan and the Bronx, then in Queens and Brooklyn. Staten Island was still on its own.

To get the subways running again, inspectors planned to walk all 800 miles of track, looking for damage to rails, switches and power sources, the transit agency said. Then they planned to test the tracks by running trains on them. Floodwater also would have to be pumped from train yards and other spots.

Story: N.Y. airports begin relieving backlog of stranded fliers

Carole Ryavec, a resident of the Upper East Side, came out for a stroll through Central Park when the worst was over early Sunday afternoon. City workers were busy cleaning up fallen trees and debris.

"Of course we dodged a bullet!" said Ryavec. "We were darned lucky that the winds decreased."

Ryavec said the subway is her main mode of transportation to her job in Brooklyn, where she is a contracts consultant for the city's Department of Education.

She figured she wouldn't be going to work if the subway wasn't running.

"It can't happen without the subway," she said.

Commuters in the suburbs were isolated from the city, with rail lines on Long Island and in the north shut down for the storm. Dozens of trees fell on the Long Island Rail Road tracks, and more than 600 workers were assessing the damage, said the railway's spokesman, Sam Zambuto.

Besides clearing fallen trees, workers had to replace 500 crossing gates that were taken down before the storm because they could be blown away by the high winds that Irene brought with it, he said.

Story: Flooding, cleanup and outages well after Irene

Meanwhile, mud slides, fallen trees and flooding rendered Metro-North Railroad tracks unusable, officials said. The commuter rail serves regions north of New York City, from Westchester County to southern Connecticut.

In the harbor-front town of Greenport, nearly every store was boarded up with plywood. A few people ventured out among the streets, which were still being buffeted by powerful winds off the water.

"We came out here looking for coffee because our house lost power," said Angelica Bengloa, who is vacationing at her summer home in nearby East Marion. "We found a place open here, and as soon as they served us, their power went out. So we're very lucky."

Bengloa said her family is prepared for several days without electricity. She doesn't have to go to work in Manhattan this week because she's still on vacation, so she's not too concerned about hunkering down for a while in her waterfront home, which scraped through the storm with hardly any damage aside from a few downed tree limbs.

"We are prepared. We have batteries and food," she said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Irene only got a little bite out of the Big Apple

  1. Closed captioning of: Irene only got a little bite out of the Big Apple

    >>> what a difference a day makes here in new york city . if you were watching last night, we showed you pictures of times square . it was under no curfew. it's just that we had so many mandatory evacuations here today, no one came. tonight, a little bit of humanity is returning, though to be truthful about it, it's nowhere near what the crowds and traffic would be like on a summer sunday late in the summer. anne thompson is there tonight. anne , a heard a stat from the police commissioner today. average saturday night in august they make 434 arrests in new york city . they made 34 arrests last night.

    >> reporter: it was a big difference, brian. just take a look at times square tonight. the people, the noise and the traffic are back. all the things that make new york great. including the swagger. knowing new york took the best of what irene could give and made it through. i reen tried to bring new york city to its knees, pushing the east river into the streets under the manhattan bridge . burying railroad tracks that carry a quarter million commuters a day. littering streets with trees and branches. but in this well-prepared city, the mayor said the damage was far less than feared.

    >> nobody likes to shut down the economy of the city. nobody likes to inconvenience people. but human lives are much more important.

    >> reporter: new yorkers watched irene blow in with 67 mile per hour gusts on early morning tv.

    >> this is not exactly hunkers do down.

    >> reporter: two hours ago, i was reporting on the end of that dock. now it's floating.

    >> reporter: her family made it through the storm. but irene crushed the suv her husband gave her for valentine's day years ago.

    >> i'm glad that my kids are fine. my family's okay. that's what matters.

    >> reporter: joseph morone and his dog hercules had their own close call this morning in manhattan.

    >> just when we passed the sidewalk behind me, the tree just, like, toppled down.

    >> reporter: new york firefighters took to boats to rescue more than 60 people, including three babies, from this flooded staten island neighborhood.

    >> when i looked out, my heart sank because all of the sudden the water was up to the level of the cars.

    >> reporter: here at the southern tip of manhattan where evacuations were mandatory, irene churned up new york harbor . but the dire predictions of flooding never came true. giving these british tourists a unique experience.

    >> it's so quiet! we expected new york to be arm to arm people.

    >> reporter: after packing up her battery park apartment friday, today jessica, her husband and their dog moved back in, thankful to come home to an intact apartment.

    >> i think they were trying to protect everybody. if they hadn't, everybody would have been upset that, oh, they didn't do enough.

    >> reporter: even before irene left town, famously impatient new yorkers were already grumbling about tomorrow's commute. hampered by subway cars still in dry dock .

    >> it's frustrating. mother nature calmls. i'd rather take the proper precautions, shut everything down.

    >> reporter: mayor bloomberg admits tomorrow's commute is going to be tough. some commuter rail lines is going to be operating. no word on when the subway system is going to be operating. that carries 5 million people. it's going to take people a lot longer to get to work tomorrow morning .

    >> anne , then there's air travel . we have a really interesting looking graphic to put on the screen that has just enough lines on it to be truly fascinating. what it shows basically is the weather going up and out to canada and air travel kind of finally closing in around the bad weather . it'll eventually fill in the gaps. you were at laguardia last night when it was an absolute ghost town . well, we may never see it like that again. it's going to take a while to get all that tin in here and fill those planes with people and start getting 12,000 canceled flights back online.

    >> reporter: it is. but it's going to start tomorrow morning , brian. the port authority says that they will begin taking arrivals early tomorrow morning at new york 's three major airports, newark, laguardia and jfk. then they hope to actually have departures by late morning. you know what it depends on? that subway system . because that's how most airport workers get to work.

    >> i knew you'd raise that complication. all right. anne thompson in a newly vibrant times square on the last sunday night of august 2011 . anne , thanks.

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