After Sandy, Cuomo targets flood remedies, LIPA in State of State

advertisement | advertise on newsday

ALBANY -- Flood-proofing subways, exploring multibillion-dollar barriers to protect New York's harbors, and privatizing the Long Island Power Authority were some of the superstorm Sandy remedies that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed Wednesday in his third State of the State address.

Climate change is "inarguable," the governor said, because 100-year floods are arriving every few years.

The state should fight back, he said, by lowering a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and safeguarding storm-swamped coastal communities on Long Island, in Queens and along Manhattan's shoreline -- including the infrastructure that exists 15 stories below grade.

"There are parcels that Mother Nature owns. She may only visit once every few years, but she owns the parcel and when she visits, she visits," he said.

Among his proposals: New York City's subways should get roll-down doors, vent closures and more powerful pumps. Other ideas included recreating wetlands, islands and oyster reefs, building sea walls and studying whether to build movable barriers -- one from New Jersey to the Rockaways and one from the mouth of the East River to Long Island Sound.

Homeowners and businesses that want to relocate after Sandy should be bought out, while those who wish to stay put should be given assistance, the governor said. But new structures and major renovations should meet stricter "survivability" standards, he said.

"I'd rather pay more to put a house on pilings today than rebuild that house three times," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said LIPA's flawed and delayed restoration of power led him to propose abolishing it and selling the electric grid to a private utility, which he said would "protect the ratepayers and freeze rates for a period of years."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was noncommittal. "I think it's something that has to be considered. But I want to look at the bottom line. Is it truly going to help taxpayers?"

The governor did not spell out how much federal aid his initiatives required, but blasted Congress for approving only $9.7 billion of the $60 billion aid package approved by the Senate for New York and New Jersey 73 days after Sandy struck.

Noting New York's congressional delegation was not hobbled by party divisions, he added: "Deliver the aid we need and deserve. Do not play politics with New York. Do not bring your political gridlock into New York," he said.

While making no specific threat, he added: "Remember New York, because New York will not forget, I promise."

With Mark Harrington

@Newsday

and Yancey Roy

You also may be interested in: