Cuomo puts price tag of $33 billion on Sandy, rails against 'outdated' utility 'monopolies'
In a press conference today, Governor Andrew Cuomo put the cost of Hurricane Sandy at $33 billion. He also the reiterated his belief in the long-lasting impact of future extreme weather events on the state and city of New York.*
Cuomo spoke about the vulnerability of the city’s transport and fuel delivery systems and said that the fuel shortages experienced as a result of the storm were the outcome of only two days of disruption to supply.
Karen DeWitt reports:
Governor Cuomo says damage from Superstorm Sandy will cost New York $33 billion dollars in property damage and economic losses. The governor , at a briefing, said the storm revealed “severe” vulnerabilities in the state’s gasoline distribution system, as Long Island and New York City announced gasoline rationing would begin on Friday .
Governor Cuomo says the Sandy’s total costs for New York are now $33 billion dollars.
“That is a staggering number,” Cuomo said. “Especially with the financial situation that we’ve been in.”
The state has already had to cut more than $10 billion dollars from its budget over the past two years. The state already has a one billion dollar structural deficit for next year’s budget, and that gap could grow, says Cuomo.
The governor, speaking a week and a half after Sandy, and one day after a second storm brought snow and wind to the downstate region, says power outages and gas shortages continues.
Cuomo railed against the utilities working to restore electricity on Long Island and in Westchester, saying they are “archaic” and “obsolete ” monopolies that need to be modernized to be more efficient and accountable when major storms occur.
“We’re going to have to look at a ground up redesign,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo says power companies were “unprepared” for the storm, at one point running out of new poles to replace damaged ones. He says the utilities have “failed” and he warns that they will be held “accountable”, through the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.
Cuomo says concerns continue about gasoline supplies, and he says the current distribution system in the state is a “severe vulnerability”.
“Look how fast you can shut down the region just by shutting down the pumps,” said Cuomo who says power outages, and now a “broken pipe” have shut down the gasoline pumps in recent days.
The Buckeye Pipeline, which the governor’s office says pumps approximately 4.5 million gallons of gas per day into the New York City and Long Island area, was sidelined for a time when the second storm caused more power outages.
The governor says he’s open to a bill to require gas stations to own generators in case of power outages, but wants to make sure first that it would not further drive up the cost of fuel.
Cuomo did not impose state rationing of gasoline, but the City of New York and Long Island announced odd- even day gas rationing beginning on Friday.
Cuomo says once the power is back on and the gasoline is flowing normally, the “next chapter” will be coping with “extreme weather” that the governor says he believes is here to stay.
“There is a reality that has existed for a long time that we’ve been blind to,” Cuomo said.
He says he and other officials will have to decide how and where to rebuild and how to use new technologies to provide better protection from floods in the future.