Residents of New York City, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland counties continued the process of recovering from the unprecedented damage of superstorm Sandy this past week. A subsequent winter storm that hit on Wednesday brought wet snow, sleet, rain and heavy wind gusts to the already suffering region. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of this area, who have been through so much in the last two weeks.
Last Thursday, Gov. Cuomo said that he expects the cost of the storm in the state – including damages and economic loss — will be at least $33 billion. He also said that he wants the federal government to direct that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cover the state’s storm cleanup costs.
It is clear that the storm will impact the state’s 2013-14 budget. New York State is now facing a projected $1 billion 2013-14 budget deficit. According to the governor, the likely deficit for next year will now be closer to $2 billion.
The governor also said that the region’s “archaic” transportation infrastructure must be “hardened” so as not to repeat the damage it sustained in some future storm. That’s going to require an investment of millions – possibly billions of dollars.
Also last week, the State’s emergency management chief was fired for deploying government workers to clear a tree at his Long Island home during Hurricane Sandy. Steven Kuhr had served as the director of the state’s Office of Emergency Management, which coordinates the state response to disasters.
In response to long lines for gasoline, New York City and Long Island have imposed gasoline rationing systems, allowing consumers to purchase gasoline every other day. Buses, taxis and limousines, commercial vehicles and emergency vehicles are exempt from the plan.
The state’s school boards have asked the Legislature to ease statutory attendance and spending requirements for districts hit hard by the storm. At least 358 districts closed some or all of their schools for at least one day after Sandy hit last week, with some missing a full week or more, according to the state Education Department.