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Cuomo seeks $689.6M for Sandy damage in Hudson Valley

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference in New York about Hurricane Sandy. (Nov. 8, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking the federal government for $689.6 million to repair damage and build prevention measures in the Hudson Valley in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The sum is massive, but it's less than 2 percent of the total of nearly $41.9 billion Cuomo is asking from President Barack Obama and Congress to help the state recover from the storm. It also doesn't include Federal Emergency Management Agency funds flowing into the region as the recovery continues.

"This nation has a long history of helping each other in a time of need," Cuomo said in an afternoon Manhattan news conference. "This state and this region of the country has always been there to help other regions of the country. Well, we need help today."

Cuomo is requesting the money in the form of a "supplemental appropriation" that would require approval by the White House and Congress. The request comes at a time when officials in Washington are grappling with other pressing challenges, including the scheduled tax increases and budget cuts known as "the fiscal cliff."

The governor admitted that the aid request is ambitious and could be a hard sell in Washington. He pointed out that other regions of the county -- particularly gulf states hit by Hurricane Katrina -- received similar appropriations after natural disasters, he said.

"Because of the density of New York, the number of people affected, the number of properties affected was much larger in Hurricane Sandy than in Hurricane Katrina," Cuomo said.

The governor made his remarks after meeting with the state's congressional delegation. Phil Oliva, an aide to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, said state, city and county officials sat opposite from federal legislators in a conference room, explaining how they had reached their sums.

"This was their meeting before the 'go and ask,' " Oliva said.

Oliva's boss later emphasized that the aid request had been put together on a bipartisan basis.

"It is important that we are all on the same page as New Yorkers, and not as Republicans or Democrats," Astorino said. "We need to speak with one voice as we seek recovery cost reimbursement from the federal government for this horrific storm. And today's meeting was a good step forward in that process."

Under Cuomo's request, Westchester County would receive $527.8 million. Rockland County would receive $143.7 million. Other Hudson Valley counties would receive $18.1 million.

Storm-battered New York City would receive $15 billion. Almost $8.4 million would be appropriated for Long Island, where Sandy decimated shore communities. New York State, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other transit agencies, would receive almost $7.2 billion.

More than $1.5 million would help repair and improve electric lines and other utility infrastructure that failed for 2 million New Yorkers, including half a million Hudson Valley residents.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat who attended the meeting, released a statement saying it might take weeks or even months for Congress and the president to release the funds.

"Make no mistake, this will not be an easy task," Schumer said. "We will not rest until the federal response meets New York's deep and extensive needs."

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