ALBANY -- Long Island's two county executives huddled with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Tuesday to begin finalizing a plan for how to use federal aid for superstorm Sandy recovery.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone met with the governor and his staff for about an hour at Cuomo's offices in the State Capitol. They said the goal was to put together a detailed "action plan" for federal officials to get relief funds flowing as quickly as possible.
"Everyone worked together well in the aftermath of Sandy and it's important we continue that," said Bellone, a Democrat.
"We want to make sure our needs are well-represented in the document," added Mangano, a Republican, referring to the state's action plan.
Congress on Monday approved a $50.5 billion Sandy aid package for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the second part of a $60 billion package. New York expects to receive a little more than half the funds.
President Barack Obama signed the aid legislation into law last night and Cuomo administration officials said they hope to submit a plan to federal agencies soon.
One hurdle for the state, Cuomo officials said, is that the money won't be doled out in one lump from the federal government, but will be rolled out by more than a dozen agencies. Devising an action plan isn't required, but Cuomo officials believe that "presenting a united front" among state, Long Island and New York City officials for specific uses of the aid will be key to receiving aid as quickly as possible, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because the plan is still being developed.
Both Bellone and Mangano said most residents they've heard from would rather rebuild their homes than accept a government buyout to move. "The overwhelming majority have expressed a desire to rebuild. There's strong interest in raising their homes," Mangano said, referring to building on stilts or other methods to avoid future flooding.