The first damage and economic loss estimates of Hurricane Sandy are pegged at about $33 billion for New York State and $50 billion for the region, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today, Nov. 8, in an update on the storm. "That is a staggering number, especially with the financial situation that we’ve been in," he said.
The state may also incur, at least, an additional $1 billion deficit due to the storm, Cuomo said.
The governor also criticized utilities, calling them monopolies, for being unprepared. "Part of it is the system design and part of it is just their performance, and part of it is the fact that these utilities are a monopoly," he said.
If, however, there is a lesson to learn from Sandy, it is that the frequency of extreme weather conditions is here to stay, Cuomo said. Given that, the state needs to consider where and what to rebuild and which technologies and construction techniques to use, he said.
The overall vulnerability of this region to floods and storms has changed from when New York City was built and major floods, hurricanes and storms were not an issue, Cuomo said. But "We learned the hard way” that when the city’s vast underground network of subway tunnels and other infrastructure flood, “we don’t even have a way to pump out all that water," he said. Thus, there needs to be a "rethinking, redesign of how we protect this metropolitan area from this increased frequency."
The governor also said that the region’s transportation and fuel delivery systems are vulnerable and need to be improved.