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Local News November 30, 2012  RSS feed

Billions Sought By State For Post- Sandy Repairs

Pols United To Get Federal Aid
by Robert Pozarycki

New York State will be asking the federal government to cover over $40 billion in estimated repair costs, restoration efforts and preventative actions stemming from Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday, Nov. 26.

“The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is of unprecedented proportions, ranking among the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history in terms of loss of life, property damage and economic impact,” Cuomo said following a briefing with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, county executives, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and the state’s Congressional delegation.

During the meeting, the governor encouraged cooperation among members of all levels of government to ensure that the state acquires the means to “rebuild stronger and better than ever before, so New York State is better prepared and has the infrastructure in place to handle future major weather incidents.”

According to the governor’s of- fice, New York City alone will require more than $15 billion to cover recovery efforts and institute prevention measures. Various state agencies including entities such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will need more than $7.1 billion for these expenses.

At least 305,000 housing units in New York State were either damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, according to the governor’s office. More than 2.1 million power outages were reported at the height of the storm. Over 265,000 businesses were also impacted by the storm, the office added.

Damage estimates for New York State were derived through audits by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the PFM Group.

In statements made following their meeting with the governor, New York’s federal lawmakers agreed to work hard on Capitol Hill to ensure that the Empire State get all the necessary funding to fully recovery from the damages wrought by Sandy.

“Working with the Obama admin- istration and the delegation, as well as with colleagues from other affected states, we will do everything we can to maximize the relief New York receives,” said Schumer. “Make no mistake, this will not be an easy task, particularly given the impending fiscal cliff, and a Congress that has been much less than friendly to disaster relief than in the past. This will be an effort that lasts not weeks, but many months, and we will not rest until the federal response meets New York’s deep and extensive needs.”

The fiscal cliff to which Schumer referred is a euphemism for a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, as per a debt ceiling agreement reached by Congress and President Barack Obama in 2011.

Lawmakers and the president are embarking on negotiations to hammer out a budget deal before the end of 2012 in order to avoid the automatic austerity measures, which both sides believe will have a negative impact on the American economy if enacted.

“Images of the devastation New York suffered from Hurricane Sandy only tells half the story of this unprecedented disaster,” Gillibrand added. “The federal government has a clear responsibility to commit all of the necessary resources to help us rebuild. This will not be an easy fight, but we are united as a delegation ... and we will all fight hard to push the boulder up the hill for every dollar New York needs.”

Both Democratic and Republican House members from New York agreed to join Schumer and Gillibrand in securing the maximum amount of federal disaster aid for the Empire State. Among them was Rep. Bob Turner, who lost his Breezy Point home in the six-alarm blaze that broke out during Hurricane Sandy and will be leaving office at the end of the year.

“We are not Republicans or Democrats, we are all New Yorkers working to rebuild the state we love,” Turner said, “and I look forward to continuing the discussion about what resources will be necessary to rebuild and sustain our future.”