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ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the damage from megastorm Sandy to New York City and Long Island “is as bad as anything I’ve ever experienced in New York.”
The governor, in a radio interview the morning after the storm flooded coastal parts of Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, said it “was really very frightening, last night.” The entire southern tip of Manhattan was under water.
“The Hudson River was just pouring into the Ground Zero site,” Cuomo said of the Sept. 11 memorial area. “Basements of some of the biggest commercial buildings in the city were filled with water. You had terrible fires in Queens. Nassau and Suffolk took a real beating.
“We conducted hundreds of rescues,” he continued. “We don’t have a final number of fatalities because I don’t believe we’ve found everyone yet, because we have places on the Island we literally can’t get to yet.”
The governor said the state even “lost” some Humvees, large military-style trucks, when the floodwaters topped them. The rising waters prevented emergency workers from fully responding to the fires in Queens, he said.
“You couldn’t get the equipment to the places on fire,” he said on WDGJ-AM, an Albany station. “You just literally couldn’t get trucks in there.”
The governor said he "heard no issue" of the storm having any impact on the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County.
The governor said restoring power is going to be difficult and time consuming. Normally, the state gets power-company workers from nearby states -- which isn’t possible this time because the hurricane hit so many states.
“Here, you have so many states in need we trying to get utility workers from as far away as Texas and California,” the governor said.
“I think the worst is over, and now it's an assessment, and we begin the reconstruction,” he said. “The cost of the government response here is going to be staggering.”
Cuomo didn’t offer an opinion on whether levees should be constructed downstate but said it’s “something we’re going to have to think about.”
The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations,” he said. He added that he spoke twice to President Barack Obama during the storm and talked about the increasing frequency of devastating natural disasters.
“I said to the president we have a 100-year flood every two years now,” the governor said.
Photo: Gov. Andrew Cuomo walks through lower Manhattan on Tuesday morning in the aftermath of Sandy, a tropical gale with an extra kick. (Oct. 30, 2012)