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Cuomo: More than $8B sought in disaster aid for LI

Gary Silberman looks out to an area that

Gary Silberman looks out to an area that was his bedroom after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Lindenhurst. (Oct. 31, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Albany - New York will seek $32 billion in federal disaster aid from Congress for superstorm Sandy -- including $6.6 billion for Nassau County and nearly $1.8 billion for Suffolk County -- officials said Monday.

In addition to the recovery funds, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York's congressional delegation will ask for another $9.1 billion for "prevention and mitigation" projects including hardening of Long Island sewage treatment plants, protection of transportation tunnels from flooding and elevation of electrical transformers in New York City commercial buildings.

"This region has suffered mightily, and we're going to need federal assistance to bring this state back," Cuomo said, referring to the federal aid request. "We have been shown great emotional support. . . . We need financial support. And we need it sooner rather than later."

But New York's wish list comes as Congress and the White House face a Dec. 31 deadline to agree on a deficit-reduction plan and avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

"I'm sure we'll face resistance from other parts of the country," said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who is expected to be a key player in shepherding New York's request through the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Of the $32 billion request, about $15 billion would go to New York City, $528 million to Westchester County, $144 million to Rockland County and another $7.2 billion for state agencies and transit authorities, officials said.

"There's no doubt that Nassau suffered a disproportionate share of the damage" from the storm, King said.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said New York's bid to secure aid will require an effort lasting "many months."

Cuomo huddled for 90 minutes Monday with New York's congressional delegation, as well as Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, before officials unveiled the details of the aid request.

The breakdown of recovery costs for Long Island includes nearly $5 billion for housing -- $4 billion of that for Nassau. Nearly $1 billion in recovery costs is being sought for businesses -- roughly an even split between Suffolk and Nassau.

Bellone said Suffolk's "needs were accurately reflected" in the aid request. Mangano said the unified effort "builds on President Obama's visit, where he assured us that the federal government will assist in the monumental rebuilding efforts."

Cuomo said that given the density in the New York City area, Sandy was more costly than Hurricane Katrina in terms of housing and economic damage, though Katrina exacted more of a human toll on the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people, compared with 113 who died in the U.S. during Sandy.

Cuomo said Sandy damaged 305,000 housing units in New York State, while Katrina destroyed 214,700 in Louisiana; Sandy impacted 265,300 New York businesses, while Katrina harmed 18,700.

Still, damages from Katrina ran upward of $150 billion and aid totaled about $120 billion, according to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.

Cuomo said he realizes the state is making the request while Washington is under "fiscal pressure." But coming up with the money through taxation in New York "would incapacitate the state," Cuomo said.

King said he has spoken to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said he'd advance New York's request. "He says he'll move it," King said. Boehner's office didn't respond to a request for comment.

A White House official said, "We can't comment specifically on the numbers, but the administration continues to provide all available resources to support our state and local partners as well as affected families."

With Sid Cassese and

Paul LaRocco

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