City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has called for an inquiry. By Wednesday, NYU seemed to be attempting to redirect blame for the incident from the hospital to the city. It wasn’t the generators, technically speaking, that failed, said spokeswoman Lisa Greiner. It was the fuel tanks—tanks that are “required by code to be located in the lowest level of the building.”

A Hospital Flatlined: Inside the NYU Langone Medical Center Evacuation
By Robert Kolker

Jackson Shepherd was born, after just 27 weeks of gestation, on August 31. Weighing two and a half pounds and measuring fourteen and a quarter inches long, with a shock of dark hair, he spent the first two months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of NYU’s Langone Medical Center. Each day, Jackson’s mother, Jo-An Tremblay-Shepherd, traveled from her home in Dumbo to the sprawling hospital complex in the mid-Thirties along the East River to be with her son. By the end of October, machines still monitored Jackson’s vital signs 24 hours a day. But he had recently been designated a “feeder-grower,” and moved out of an incubator and into a bassinet. Soon, Jo-An thought, Jackson would be coming home.

On Monday morning, with Sandy closing in, Jo-An packed a bag, aiming to spend the night at the hospital. While NYU had closed for Irene and sent all but a few of its patients to other facilities, this time hospital officials decided simply to stop admitting new patients and relocate most existing patients, except the cases deemed too risky to move, including the twenty babies in the NICU.

But from the start, Sandy’s singular power was obvious. As Jo-An arrived at Langone, she noticed that one entrance smelled of sewage. By late afternoon, Jackson’s nurse, Sandra Kyong Bradbury (“Another Sandy,” Jo-An says), saw that the East River was pouring over the FDR Drive. Bradbury and the rest of the staff had been told that the hospital had a backup generator. But shortly after 8 p.m., the lights went out and the monitors not on battery power shut down. No emergency power came on-line.

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