Damage and economic losses from Superstorm Sandy will cost New York state $33 billion, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last Thursday, and come just as state government runs up a deficit.
Cuomo called the estimate “a lot of money, even for the state government and federal government.”
State tax revenues were missing projections even before Superstorm Sandy hit more than a week ago. Cuomo had projected a $1 billion budget deficit that he said will now likely grow because of Sandy. For comparison, the total state budget is $132 billion a year, including federal funds.
“It is clear the state is going to suffer as a result of the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a lower Manhattan Democrat. “However, while we are still grasping the full impacts of the storm, it is difficult for us to quantify the extent of the loss to the state treasury.”
Cuomo is also counting on a commitment from the Obama administration for 100 percent reimbursement for some public costs of rebuilding.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said the federal government should be doing more.
“With winter approaching, hundreds of thousands remain without power, and countless others will soon need to be housed and fed before we face the prospect of people freezing to death in their homes,” he said.
Cuomo also is reaching out to companies. He included executives from Lowe’s home improvement stores and Sears at last Thursday’s press conference to highlight their contributions in cash and material.
“To all the corporations, we need help,” Cuomo said. “This is not going to be a short haul. … There’s going to be a long-term reconstruction. There are entire communities that need to be rebuilt.”
But the cost of repair and recovery could be just the beginning.
Cuomo said the state and New York City, utilities and the private sector need to not just rebuild, but vastly improve the power and fuel networks into the metropolitan areas. He said the metropolitan area is greatly vulnerable to a fuel system that contains just two or three days’ supply and can be disrupted by a power outage or broken pipe.