“It was desolation,” said Reppen. “The streets were like a riverbed, with mud and garbage everywhere. I saw a filing cabinet and a typewriter lying in the street. It was 36 hours before we could walk out to the lobby without being up to our waist in water.
“At first, pumping was futile,” as there was water everywhere and no place for it to go. “Once the sewers started working, we were pumping like crazy. It really took 2 to 3 days solid days of pumping (to empty the basements).”
With the fuel pumps badly damaged, Reppen and his team began searching for portable street-level diesel backup generators that could restore power to the data center.
“We ordered six generators, and only one arrived,” said Reppen, who said one generator was sold out from under them when the generator owner received a better offer while the unit was en route. Other delivery attempts resulted in repeated delays from heavy traffic and restrictions on access to the flood zone in lower Manhattan. It wasn’t until the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 2 that the 2-megawatt Caterpillar generator arrived outside 33 Whitehall. By the following day, services were restored.
A Street Full of Generators
“Once we got the physical generator on site, we were on our way,” said Reppen, who said two other tenants, Verizon and Cogent, also have mobile generators on-site.”We have a whole street full of generators.”
The generators also allowed power to be restored to the building’s elevators – which was key for Datagram, whose staff had been using the stairs to access the company’s data center on the 25th floor. Once the backup generator was on-site, the repairs continued on switchgear, and the basement pumps. Once those were fixed, the rooftop diesel fuel “day tank” needed to be cleaned, polished and refilled.
With those systems now back online, Datagram continues to operate on generator power. “We should have at least temporary feed from ConEd (this) week,” said Reppen. The building is still not open to most tenants.
Datagram was founded in 1994 as an ISP and managed services provider. After a period of growth in colocation facilities, in 2004 the company opened its data center at 33 Whitehall, a 30-story building also known as the Broad Financial Center. The building was the original NASDAQ headquarters, and a major telco hub for PSINet and Verizon Business.