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Cuomo announces storm initiatives

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at Bethpage

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at Bethpage High School in Bethpage. (Jan 2, 2014) Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY -- With Vice President Joe Biden sitting next to him, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Tuesday announced another round of initiatives for dealing with severe storms, including a new state college to focus on emergency preparedness and cybersecurity.

Biden and Cuomo said New York and other coastal states must not just replace buildings and infrastructure damaged by superstorm Sandy in October 2012, but rebuild with more resilient structures and technology.

"We have to rebuild in a way you will not be victimized by a similar storm again," Biden said. "Because if we don't, we're just wasting money."

Biden praised his fellow Democrat a day before Cuomo -- who is up for re-election this year -- delivers his annual State of the State address.

Cuomo outlined a few new steps New York is taking and expanded on some previously announced, such as sealing off the New York City subway system to prevent flooding.

"We have over 540 openings to the subway system and our challenge is to come up with a way to close all 540 openings before a flood and before the system fills," Cuomo said. "We're going to do the most fundamental redesign of the subway system since it was created over 100 years ago."

State officials revealed a prototype -- made of a woven fabric similar to material used in space suits -- at a news event in November.

Cuomo said the state would act to replace about 100 vulnerable bridges, including eight on Long Island. His plans also include creation of electrical "microgrids" to effectively operate as backup power sources in case of emergency, and a new "citizen first responder corps" that would train up to 100,000 New Yorkers.

Cuomo said the "College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity" would be the first of its kind in the nation. Aides said it would be a public college, but other specifics were unavailable.

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