With the state’s congressional delegation gathered around him, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will seek $41 billion from the federal government to help pay for post-Sandy reconstruction.
That’s a lot of money, even for Washington. Mr. Cuomo is well aware that Congress is not in a giving mood these days, not with the fiscal cliff looming and even Democrats talking about the need to reduce federal spending. And let’s not forget that there are elements in Congress who assume that 99 cents of every dollar sent to New York is wasted by grasping politicians, greedy bureaucrats and loafers looking for a handout.
Here’s the good news: Mr. Cuomo has cultivated a good relationship with New York Republicans, especially Long Island’s Peter King, and those Republicans will be able to talk to their colleagues from the Sun Belt not known for their sympathy for blue-state problems. Mr. Cuomo himself said he would be happy to meet personally with Speaker John Boehner if it becomes necessary.
There’s more good news: Mr. Cuomo is not simply asking for money to fix what’s broken—although that’s important. He has also included a request for $9 billion for projects designed for the next storm of the century—projects designed to limit the sort of damage that Sandy left in her wake.
It is critical, of course, to make sure that all of those who suffered losses receive the aid they need and deserve. It’s important to make all necessary repairs to our infrastructure.
But moving ahead, New York has to assume that Sandy is the new normal, and must act and plan accordingly. We learned a month ago that our 19th- and 20th-century infrastructure is terribly vulnerable to 21st-century weather patterns.
It clearly is not too early to think about next year’s storms—and those that will follow.