Governor: With $17 Billion In Aid We Don't Have To Leave Anything To Chance

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York State has been awarded $17 billion for storm response efforts to help protect coastal communities and mass transit.

Vice President Joe Biden met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany on Tuesday to unveil the storm response plan.

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As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, the imaginative initiative is designed to harden New York’s infrastructure in the face of ever worsening storms.

After being hit by hurricanes Lee and Irene and superstorm Sandy — three so-called “once in a lifetime” weather events — and a total of nine presidentially declared weather disasters in three years, Cuomo said he wants to make sure New York is “storm ready.”

“The new reality even changes every day. Today, they’re talking about polar vortexes in the newspaper. So it’s almost on a weekly basis there are new discoveries when it comes to extreme weather,” the governor said.

The plans for New York City and Long Island include:

  • $5 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to storm-proof the subways. As part of what would be the largest reconstruction of the system in 110 years, the funding will go toward devising seals for 540 subway openings in lower Manhattan.
  • Backup generators for 1,000 downstate gas stations located within a half-mile of a highway.
  • A $200 million flood protection system for Red Hook, Brooklyn that will include elevating streets to protect 370 acres.
  • Buying up 321 homes in Staten Island’s Oakwood Beach and replacing them with tide gates, a maritime forest, a breakwater reef and wetlands.
  • Building dunes and other protections along 82 miles of Long Island coastline.

“It’s good whatever they do, beautiful. It’s good for the neighborhood  because over here there is a potential they have another catastrophe,” Red Hook coffee shop owner Jose Piraquave said.

Cuomo said it’s time the state stop playing catch-up or leaving the issue to chance.

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“Extreme weather brings extreme damage. Superstorm Sandy shut down New York, affecting 11 million people and it shut down almost every major system in New York. The transportation system literally was under water and the subway tunnels. The electric grid went down and that’s a dark lower Manhattan, mid-Manhattan down. The fuel system collapsed,” Cuomo said.

“Rebuilding will make New York also a whole hell of a lot more competitive in the 21st Century,” added VP Biden.

The plan is called “Reimagining New York For a New Reality.”

It calls for replacing over 100 antiquated bridges and building the most advanced weather detection system in the nation with 125 inter-connected weather stations to provide real-time warnings of local extreme weather and flood conditions, Kramer reported.

“This was a special challenge for us because it called for us to literally re-imagine the state in light of what we went through, taking that trauma and reshaping New York in light of that experience,” Cuomo said.

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