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Cuomo: Superstorm Sandy Damage Could Total $33 Billion In New York

The remains of the Breezy Point neighborhood following a fire that broke out during Sunday as seen from Chopper 880 - Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Tom Kaminski / WCBS 880)

The remains of the Breezy Point neighborhood following a fire that broke out during Sunday as seen from Chopper 880 – Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Tom Kaminski / WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Damage in New York state from Superstorm Sandy could total $33 billion when all is said and done, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday as the state began cleaning up from a nor’easter that dumped snow, brought down power lines and left hundreds of thousands of new customers in darkness.

A damage forecasting firm had previously estimated that Sandy might have caused between $30 billion and $50 billion in economic losses from the Carolinas to Maine, including property damage, lost business and extra living expenses. Cuomo’s estimate will likely push the bill even higher.

A damage estimate of even $50 billion total would make Sandy the second most expensive storm in U.S. history, right behind Hurricane Katrina.

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Sandy left more people in the dark than any previous storm, the Department of Energy has said.

“We are going to have to look at a ground-up redesign,” Cuomo said. “With power outages, you paralyze the nation, and chaos ensues.”

In particular, Cuomo noted New York City’s problems, largely due to the surge of seawater that inundated utilities lying 15 to 20 stories below ground.

“That’s a brilliant engineering masterpiece, yes, but if Manhattan floods, you flood all that infrastructure,” he said. “We don’t even have a way to pump it out.”

Sandy also left drivers desperate for gas when it complicated fuel deliveries and Wednesday’s nor’easter, which brought gusting winds, rain and snow, didn’t help matters.

“It set us back in the scheduling of tankers that were coming in because people were anticipating the storm,” Cuomo said. “The power outages aggravated the situation, especially on Long Island.”

The nor’easter left hundreds of thousands of new people in darkness but failed to swamp shorelines anew, as feared.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)