ALBANY, N.Y. – Top political leaders in New York put their heads together Monday on big requests for federal disaster aid as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Superstorm Sandy ran up a bill of $32 billion in the state and the nation’s largest city.
The cost is for repairs and restoration and does not include an additional amount of more than $9 billion to head off damage in the next disaster, including steps to protect the power grid and cellphone network.
“It’s common sense; it’s intelligent,” Cuomo said. “Why don’t you spend some money now to save money in the future? And that’s what prevention and mitigation is.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had announced earlier in the day that Sandy caused $19 billion in losses in the city – part of the $32 billion estimate Cuomo used.
New York taxpayers, Cuomo said, can’t foot the bill.
“It would incapacitate the state. … Tax increases are always a last, last, last resort.”
Cuomo met with New York’s congressional delegation to discuss the new figures and present “less than a wish list.” The delegation, Cuomo and Bloomberg will now draw up a request for federal disaster aid.
In the city, Bloomberg is asking federal lawmakers to put up nearly $10 billion to reimburse government agencies and private businesses. That would be additional funding on an expedited basis over the $5.4 billion in standard disaster aid that the city projects it will receive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
States typically get 75 percent reimbursement for the cost of governments to restore mass transit and other services after a disaster.
Other states are seeking federal assistance, too. FEMA has already paid out nearly $250 million in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie says the preliminary damage estimate is $29.4 billion and could rise.