Yesterday, President Obama officially declared parts of New York state a federal disaster area because of the extreme flooding caused by Irene, and Governor Cuomo has said that damages in the state are likely to reach a cost of $1 billion. But the worst part is the fact that much of the damage will not be covered by insurance companies, and politicians have already begun partisan arguments over how the damage should be paid for. Thankfully, the declaration of a disaster area frees up some federal funds to help cover the costs, but New York State will still bear much of the financial burden.
During a press conference yesterday, Gov. Cuomo outlined the damage in New York. “Over 600 homes destroyed, six towns inundated, 150 major highways have been damaged, 22 state bridges closed,” said the Governor. “In the area of agriculture, over $45 million in damage, 140,000 acres and still climbing.”
As we said before, the federal disaster declaration allows funding to help pay for the repairs, but absurdly enough, House Majority Lead Eric Cantor (Rep. – Va.) has actually threatened to withhold disaster relief funds unless the costs are offset by spending cuts elsewhere. New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand accused Cantor of playing politics while people are suffering, and we couldn’t agree with her more.
In his promise to rebild, Governor Cuomo said, “We are going to rebuild better than it was before. New Yorkers are a tough breed and in our darkest hours is when we shine the brightest.”
FEMA is currently working to register homes that qualify for disaster relief funds, but there is still a lot of frustration over the current relief efforts. More than 200,000 thousands residents in New York were still without power yesterday, which has prompted state lawmakers to say they will be investigating the situation.