Cuomo on Sandy: 'I'm planning that it will happen again'

Posted at: 01/03/2013 11:35 PM
Updated at: 01/04/2013 9:50 AM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - Just a day after criticizing Republican leadership in Congress for delaying a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief, Gov. Cuomo on Thursday began taking steps to improve the state's future emergency preparedness.

Even while continuing to blast Congress for what he calls a "dereliction of duty," the governor heard from two of four committees that he set, intent on being even more ready to respond the next time disaster strikes.

"This is an extraordinarily long delay, just by the number of days," the governor said Thursday at a Capitol news conference.

Still angered by congressional inaction on Sandy relief, Cuomo reiterated the vital role government needs to play while responding to a crisis.

"People are in desperate need for help and assistance," he said. "It's a matter of life and death, literally and the only organization, the only people who can help, are government people."

To that end, the New York State Respond and the New York State Ready committees made several recommendations. Among them -- a state stockpile of water, food and gasoline, plus the establishment of a civilian emergency response corps that includes an army of electricians.

There would be generators at gas stations, a text message alert system to deliver vital information to recipients and a plan to better protect vulnerable populations such as nursing home residents.

"There's a feasibility that goes along with all of these initiatives," the governor pointed out. "You have to weigh it against the probability and against the cost. You can be prepared for a lot of things, the question is how much do you want to pay and what is the probability that those things are going to occur."

What the governor would like to see occur right now is congressional passage of Sandy Relief legislation. $60 million hangs in the balance for storm victims. Leaving them in a vulnerable state of uncertainty, the governor says, would be "cruel."

"To inject their politics and their chaos into this situation was truly an outstanding failure on their part," the governor said.

House Speaker John Boehner says his chamber will vote on a federal relief package Jan. 15.

Meanwhile, the governor will take many of Thursday's recommendations and include them in his State of the State Message next week.