Two trees sit on a home in Oceanside. (Aug. 29,...

Two trees sit on a home in Oceanside. (Aug. 29, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY -- The state will pick up $8.5 million in local-government costs in Nassau and Suffolk counties related to tropical storms Irene and Lee last summer, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

"New Yorkers were the first to lend a hand to help their neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and by covering the local share of recovery costs, [the state] is now lending a helping hand to localities," Cuomo said in a statement.

"Covering these costs will be a major shot in the arm for local governments and will allow existing rebuilding and recovery projects to move forward as quickly as possible," he said.

Typically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pays for 75 percent of disaster response costs and the state and local governments split the remaining 25 percent. A week ago, Cuomo announced the state would cover the local share for 25 upstate counties, in an aid package worth $61 million.

State funding for Suffolk's local share amounts to $4.5 million and $4 million in Nassau.

The governor said the state can cover the costs through the state budget and with additional federal funds he requested.

Long Island prepared to be socked by Irene, but damage was limited because it turned west before making landfall. It tore through the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain region before pummeling Vermont. In New York, total storm recovery costs were estimated at $1.6 billion.

On Long Island, local storm costs are estimated at $68 million, according to the governor's office. FEMA will cover $51 million, with the state now covering the rest, including the $8.5 million that local governments would have had to pay.

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) applauded Cuomo and said the storm damage had "compounded" the "dire financial situation" that many Island municipalities faced.

Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) added: "Our local governments are already stretched thin and this funding will allow us to make critical repairs while keeping our community affordable."

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