NEW YORK (AP) — Damage in New York state from Superstorm Sandy could total $33 billion when all is said and done, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday 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 $30 billion to $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. Sandy inundated parts of New York City and New Jersey with a storm surge as high as 14 feet, killed more than 100 people and left more than 8.5 million people without power at its peak.
Sandy left more people in the dark than any previous storm, the Department of Energy has said, and it left drivers desperate for gas when it complicated fuel deliveries.
“We are going to have to look at a ground-up redesign,” Cuomo said of the power and fuel supply systems. “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.”
After tight gasoline supplies led to long lines and frustration at filling stations, officials in the city and on Long Island said yesterday that rationing will be implemented starting today. Drivers will alternate days they can fill up, based on whether their license plates end in an odd or even number.