Cuomo: Irene damage close to $1 billion in NY

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Appearing at a press conference today with federal officials in Greene County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tropical Storm Irene caused close to $1 billion, his administration’s first cost estimate since the storm hit Sunday.

Flanked by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Cuomo laid out the damage like this: “Over 600 homes destroyed, six towns inundated, 150 major highways have been damaged, 22 state bridges closed. In the area of agriculture over $45 million in damage, 140,000 acres and still climbing.”

The news conference took place after Cuomo led the federal officials on a tour of the town of Prattsville, one of the six towns that were completely wiped out by Irene. Before today, Cuomo’s office had declined to estimate just how much damage the storm caused.

“The damage that we have sustained is significant, and sometimes the bottom line is the bottom line. We need help on the economics,” Cuomo said. “We’ll bring the energy, we’ll bring the commitment, we’ll bring the drive, we’ll bring the know-how, but these are not communities of deep pockets.”

Fugate stressed that this morning’s disaster declaration from President Obama was so the counties most in need could immediately start filing for federal assistance, and that more counties will likely be added to the list.

Napolitano, meanwhile, encouraged individuals and homeowners to begin filing their claims now at m.fema.gov or 1-800-621-FEMA.

“This is one of the first areas to be declared a presidential major disaster,” Napolitano said. “That means individuals who need help now rebuilding their lives can begin the process, and the process begins first with registering with FEMA so we know who you are and where you are and begin the exchange of information that we will need.

A frustrated Prattsville resident, meanwhile, lashed out at the officials, asking if they were going to stay and help or if they were just pandering to the cameras.

“Are you guys going to hit the bricks when the cameras leave town?” he yelled.

Greene County Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh responded, praising the response of the federal government, and particularly the National Guard, who Speenburgh said went door to door to assist homeowners after the flood hit.

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  1. I’d buy him a beer but I don’t trust online ptynemas. That reminds me, I’m down to about ten cans myself, better stock up on some more today. Ahh the good old quiet northeast,Boy, that’s a lot to get hit with when you think things are pretty secure for you, good luck to him. I don’t think my place could ever flood but a good shaker could make me homeless I guess.Oh well, I have back up places and I don’t require much as long as I’m warm and dry.