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New York storm damage reaches $41 billion

Governor Cuomo says Hurricane Sandy caused more damage than Hurricane Katrina, and is now asking for $41 billion from the federal government. Cuomo says New York’s congressional delegation has promised the help.

Cuomo, following a meeting with New York’s congressional delegation has now come up with a detailed list of costs from Superstorm Sandy.  The governor and his aides have calculated that repair and restoration costs have reached $32.8 billion.  An additional $9.1 billion dollars is needed for mitigation for future storms.

The governor calls the numbers a “snapshot of the damage now”.

Cuomo says Sandy may have caused more destruction of homes, businesses and sea shore than Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005.

“Hurricane Katrina, which is the obvious comparison, in many ways was not as impactful as Hurricane Sandy, believe it or not,” said Cuomo.

He says 305,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed in New York from Sandy, compared to 214,000 after Katrina. 265,000 businesses were adversely affected from Sandy, versus 18,000 from Katrina. Two million lost power after Superstorm Sandy, compared to 800,000 after Katrina.

The governor admits many more lives were lost during Hurricane Katrina. While over 100 people died in the US as a result of Sandy, over 1800 lives were lost as a result of Katrina.

Cuomo outlined Sandy’s costs after a private meeting with the New York’s Senators and congressional representatives, where he said they pledged to help him receive the money in a supplemental aid appropriation from Congress before the end of the year.

“I understand the fiscal pressures that Washington is under,” said Cuomo. “I also understand the fiscal pressure that New York is under.”

But he says it’s not “fair” to ask New York taxpayers to “shoulder the burden”. Cuomo says trying to raise over $40 billion through New York’s budget, either through new taxes or more spending cuts, would “incapacitate the state”.

The governor says there’s been a “whole alphabet soup” of hurricanes that have hit various regions of the country in recent decades, and there’s been a “long history” of federal bail outs to help those affected.

Cuomo says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that his efforts will be successful. He faces his biggest challenge convincing the Republican led House of Representatives to agree to the fund request. He says New York’s Republican Congressmen Peter King and Mark Grimm have promised to help him.

The governor even offered House Speaker John Boehner  a tour of the storm damaged areas, and says he’ll even go to Washington to plead his case in person , if necessary.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.