Cuomo To Seek Full Reimbursement From Feds For Sandy

2:33 PM, Nov 2, 2012   |    comments
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the New York Army and Air National Guard to mobilize in response to Hurricane Sandy. Cuomo said the Guard will deploy up to 1,175 troops . TheyÕll help local authorities respond to storm damage in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier. Gannett News Service
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By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday requested that President Obama provide up to 100 percent reimbursement to New York for the damage from Hurricane Sandy, saying the state may have sustained $6 billion in economic losses.

The request capped another busy day of recovery efforts across New York City and its suburbs after the hurricane caused more than 2 million power outages, at least 30 deaths and billions of dollars in damage to public transportation systems.

The federal aid, Cuomo wrote, "is critical to ensuring that our state and local governments are able to respond effectively to the emergent and continuing issues associated with the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy."

Cuomo said the $6 billion is the lost economic revenue in the region "due to the severe disruption of business in the world's leading financial hub and the largest port on the northeastern seaboard."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said subways would be running on a limited scheduled on Thursday. Commuter trains in the New York City suburbs resumed partial service Wednesday afternoon.

Passenger cars are being limited into Manhattan because of severe traffic due to the lack of subways, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.

For the rest of the work week, vehicles would need to have at least three people to enter Manhattan from East and Hudson river crossings, except for the George Washington Bridge, Bloomberg said.

The MTA said usually 2.3 million people take buses in the city each day, and another 5 million take the subways.

"We are going to need some patience and some tolerance," Cuomo said at a midday briefing Wednesday.

As of 7 p.m., New York had 1.9 million customers without power - down from 2.2 million on Tuesday. There were still about 855,000 outages on Long Island and 784,000 in New York City.

Con Edison said 176,000 customers in Westchester County were without power. Orange & Rockland Utilities had 137,380 outages, and NYSEG had 104,678, mainly in Westchester and Putnam counties.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said the utilities weren't communicating well enough with customers. There are estimates of perhaps 10 days until power is returned.

"Utilities are expecting power restoration to take over a week-this is absolutely unacceptable; 10 days is too damn long," Ball said in a statement.

Typically, FEMA provides 75 percent reimbursement for costs from natural disasters, and the state and local governments split the rest.

New York, however, has its own fiscal troubles and faces a $1 billion budget gap next year. Local governments have their own major financial problems.

"This is one of the biggest disasters to have ever hit this state and even this country," Sen. Chuck Schumer said. "The federal response has to measure that scope and be equal to that scope."

Obama toured hard-hit parts of New Jersey, and he pledged federal support for the state and neighboring New York.

"The federal government will be working as closely as possible with state and local officials, and we will not quit until this is done," Obama said.

Some state lawmakers said a special session of the Legislature might be necessary to provide aid to the New York City area. Last year, a special session in December included state aid to upstate areas hard hit by tropical storms Irene and Lee.

"I think we should come back and take a close look at what the needs are and respond appropriately," said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, Rockland County.

The cost of Irene and Lee in New York exceeded $1.2 billion, with the state paying for the local governments' share. Sandy had a bigger impact on a more populous area, state officials said.

"This was an extraordinary event, much more than Hurricane Irene was in terms of damage and impact. Our local governments don't have the money," Cuomo's top aide Larry Schwartz said on Talk 1300-AM in Albany.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the costs to New York for the storm are still unknown. But DiNapoli warned that it would be a significant hit to the state's finances.

Wall Street represents about 14 percent of the state's total revenue.

"We're concerned, obviously about the revenue impact coming to the state of New York," DiNapoli said Wednesday on CNBC. "Our budget has been a very fragile condition. So we're all trying to make assessments."

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