The hospital was evacuated last year for Hurricane Irene, but not for Sandy this week.
But Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs and a trustee at NYU Langone, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that hospital officials are aware of shortcomings in their infrastructure.
“I am acutely aware that the infrastructure at NYU is somewhat old,” he said. “We do have backup generation facilities. They are not state-of-the-art, they're not in the most state-of-the-art location. That's all very, very well-known by the board of directors of NYU.”
In a news conference Tuesday night, the mayor said that too many generators were located in the basements of buildings in the areas evacuated for flood risk, though he did not name NYU Langone. It was not immediately clear why NYU Langone's generator failed.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said in an e-mail Tuesday evening that part of the generator is on the roof and part in the basement, which she said took on 8 feet of water. The reason for the failure, she said, is being investigated.
Cohn said the hospital is in the midst of a $3 billion campaign to modernize the facilities, including improvements “to make sure that we would have uninterrupted backup power forever.”
Cohn said the hospital is located in Zone A (PDF), which is considered the most likely to flood during high-water events. “One of the realities of it is that NYU is also in Zone A. It's in a low-lying flood area on the East River, where they tend to need to get evacuated when they evacuate Zone A,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that the billionaire chairman of the hospital, Kenneth Langone, was a patient on the 11th floor when the building lost power, and had to be evacuated.
“We believed we had the machines, we believed the machines would work, and we believed everything we were told about the scope and size of the storm,” Langone was quoted as saying in the Bloomberg story. “Do you think they'd have kept me in there if they thought I was going to be unsafe?”