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NY Governor Seeking $30B in Storm Federal Aid

November 12, 2012

By Michael Virtanen, The Associated Press

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ALBANY, N.Y. - Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to request $30 billion in federal aid to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, which heavily damaged parts of New York City and Long Island, he said Monday.

The administration will seek a supplemental appropriation to cover infrastructure, repair and emergency costs beyond those normally covered by federal emergency aid, Cuomo said. "I've asked for 100 percent reimbursement," he said.

Generally the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse up to 75 percent of public costs, with the state and local authorities covering the remaining 25 percent. There have been cases, such as Hurricane Katrina, where the federal government has reimbursed up to 90 percent of costs.

"The equity and the fairness is inarguable in this case," Cuomo said. It will probably be a regional plan including New Jersey and Connecticut, with money for infrastructure, housing, local governments and small business, he said.

The plan to request federal aid, first reported Monday by The New York Times, would help cover the cost of improvements like a power grid meant to improve utilities' ability to find and fix outages. It would also upgrade New York City's fuel supply capacity to help prevent consumer shortages and bring new oil and gas pipelines from New England to reduce dependence on shipping the fuel.

Long lines at gas stations led to alternate-day rationing in both New York and New Jersey after the storm.

Last week, Cuomo said the storm would cost New York state $33 billion and he was counting on a commitment from the Obama administration for reimbursement for many public costs of rebuilding.

Even before the storm, the Cuomo administration had projected a $1 billion state deficit for the fiscal year with a $132 billion government budget. That deficit was expected to grow after the storm. Cuomo also raised the issue of more frequent extreme weather and studying what measures are needed to better protect New York's low-lying coastal areas.

Meanwhile, New York City is pouring $500 million into repairing public schools and hospitals damaged by the storm. With 23 schools and two city-owned hospitals still closed two weeks after the storm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials announced plans Monday to put up $200 million for critical fixes to schools and $300 million for hospitals. That may well not be the final price tag, but it's enough to get going robustly on needs including new boilers, new electrical systems and roof repairs, city officials said. Officials plan to seek federal reimbursement for the school and hospital repairs.

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Associated Press writers Alicia Caldwell in Washington and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Story Image: Workers remove debris from the basement of a building in New York's Financial District, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. (Richard Drew, AP)

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