New York, New Jersey Put $71 Billion Price Tag on Sandy

New York state and New Jersey need at least $71.3 billion to recover from the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy and prevent similar damage from future storms, according to their latest estimates.

The total, which could grow, came as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday the state will need $41.9 billion, including $32.8 billion to repair and restore damaged housing, parks and infrastructure and to cover lost revenue and other expenses. The figure also includes $9.1 billion to mitigate potential damage from future severe weather events, Cuomo said. 

Neighboring New Jersey, which saw massive damage to its transit system and coastline, suffered at least $29.4 billion in overall losses, according to a preliminary analysis released by Gov. Chris Christie's office Friday. The preliminary cost estimate includes federal aid New Jersey has received so far. 

By some measures, Sandy was worse than Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which tore into the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, Cuomo said. 

Sandy destroyed 305,000 houses in New York state - a still provisional number that's likely to grow - compared with the 214,700 destroyed in Louisiana by Katrina and Rita. 

Sandy also caused nearly 2.2 million power outages at its peak in the state, compared with 800,000 from Katrina and Rita in Louisiana, and impacted 265,300 businesses compared to 18,700, Cuomo said. 

While Sandy may have damaged more homes and businesses, Katrina took a far greater toll on human lives, killing more than 1,800 people directly or indirectly. Sandy, by comparison, is believed to have killed at least 121 people. 

"Hurricane Katrina got a lot of notoriety for the way government handled -- or mishandled, depending on your point of view -- the situation," Cuomo said at a press conference. 

But considering the dense population of the area Sandy impacted and costs to the economy, housing and businesses, the damage done "was much larger in Hurricane Sandy than in Hurricane Katrina, and that puts this entire conversation, I believe, in focus," Cuomo said. 

The total cost to the region is still not known as estimates of the damage, as well as future repair and prevention costs, continue to come in from states, cities and counties. 

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