Governor Cuomo Announces Broad Series of Innovative Protections; Vice President Biden Credits Storm Plan as a Model for Future Recovery Efforts

January 7, 2014

From the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Projects Statewide to Strengthen New York’s Communities Against Extreme Weather

Vice President Joe Biden today joined Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for the unveiling of “Reimagining New York for a New Reality,” a $17 billion strategy that will transform New York’s infrastructure, transportation networks, energy supply, coastal protection, weather warning system and emergency management to better protect New Yorkers from future extreme weather.

“The new reality in New York is we are getting hit by 100 year storms every couple of years. We have to wake up to that new reality by completely reimagining our state to be ready for any future disaster,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Our plan completely transforms the way we build and protect our infrastructure, safeguard our energy supply, prepare our citizens and first responders, and provide fuel and electricity. I want to thank Vice President Biden for being here today to support our efforts to reimagine New York and for supporting our state throughout the Sandy recovery process.”

"Governor, I am delighted to be able to be here with you today,” said Vice President Joe Biden. “I think you rebuilding New York, reimagining a future is exactly what we have to do in this country. And once again, in the tradition of this state and the tradition of Andrew Cuomo, you’re leading. You’re not just leading in New York, you’re leading the country. And I think a lot of governors and a lot of folks can learn an awful lot from what they see and what you do here."

New York has suffered nine presidentially declared disasters in the three years since Governor Cuomo took office. A key theme of the state's rebuilding program is that extreme weather is a new reality.

New York presents special challenges in protecting its critical systems and infrastructure. Much of the critical infrastructure in New York City — transit and electric systems in particular — is built underground and is susceptible to seawater. On Long Island, communities, power systems, wastewater systems, and fuel terminals are built along the coastline. In Upstate New York, communities and infrastructure are often built along waterways vulnerable to increasingly severe flooding.

The State is using its share of federal funds appropriated for Sandy, Irene and Lee (along with state funds) to implement this far-reaching program, which includes:

  • Building the most advanced weather detection system in the nation, with 125 interconnected weather stations to provide real-time warnings of local extreme weather and flood conditions;
  • Launching the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity;
  • Replacing and repairing 104 older bridges at risk due to increasing flooding
  • Implementing the largest reconstruction of the state’s transit system in 110 years with $5 billion of federal funds;\
  • Creating a statewide Strategic Fuel Reserve, and statewide gas station back-up power on critical routes throughout the state;
  • Hardening the state’s electric grid and creating 10 “microgrids” (independent community-based electric distributions systems);
  • Building new natural infrastructure to protect the New York’s coastline, and provide advanced flood control for inland waterways;
  • Training a new Citizen First Responder Corps to make New York residents the best prepared in the nation to deal with emergencies and disasters; and
  • Expanding the $650 million NY Rising Community Reconstruction program to allow 124 communities around the state to create their own individualized storm resilience plans.
  • Issuing special license plates for first responders

Establish a State-of-the-Art Weather Detection System - $18,650,000

Governor Cuomo proposes the creation of the most advanced weather detection system in the nation, with 125 interconnected weather stations to provide real-time warnings of local extreme weather and flood conditions, and identify threats to roads, bridges and the electric system. This statewide weather-reporting network will provide data that the State can use for predictive modeling and early warnings for use by emergency management staff and first responders to prevent loss of life and property. The NY Advanced Weather Detection System will consist of 125 sophisticated stations that will provide localized, accurate, real time data on air, wind, soil, and radiation conditions. The information will be reported to a network that includes the NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the State University of Albany, and the National Weather Service; these agencies in turn will communicate conditions and warnings to the public. Stations will be placed less than 25 miles apart and are able to generate reports every 1-15 minutes. New York is currently only covered by 27 less sophisticated stations operated by the National Weather Service.

Creating a College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, Cybersecurity

Governor Cuomo proposes creating the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity under the State University of New York system to maintain New York’s position as a leader in state and national security. The SUNY College will be the first of its kind to integrate emergency preparedness, security and counterterrorism studies through interdisciplinary programs that involve law, public and international affairs, information technology, cyber engineering and critical infrastructure protection, and science. The College will create the world's most comprehensive academic programs, research, and training opportunities for aspiring professionals, policy leaders, emergency managers and first responders.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “Within minutes of every storm that hit New York, Governor Cuomo lead the state’s strong response to help every community recover and rebuild better and stronger than ever. Today’s announcement on his vision to create a world class College of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness is a sensible approach to preparing the next generation of first responders to be ready for the next generation of devastating storms. I look forward to working with the Governor on this new SUNY College that will maintain New York’s position as a leader in storm preparedness.”

Dr. Jason P. Tuell, Ph.D., Director of the Eastern Region at the National Weather Service, said, “By creating the most advanced weather detection system in the nation, New York will be more prepared than ever before to face the challenges of extreme weather. Governor Cuomo’s proposal to create a state-of-the-art weather reporting system is a visionary move that will safeguard communities throughout the state. I commend the Governor for working to meet the needs of 21st century weather patterns, and urge the Senate and Assembly to work with the Governor to make this proposal a reality.”

David Skorton, President, Cornell University, said, “By creating the College of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness, Governor Cuomo is leading the nation in storm preparation and other aspects of protection of the people of our state. This college will not only reinforce and update the knowledge and skills of current first responders, but will train an entirely new generation of emergency managers whose cutting edge techniques will permit them to prepare for and respond to the worst disasters, and protect New Yorkers. Together with the NYS RISE think tank, this college will set the standard for emergency preparedness. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s vision and determination to make New York the safest state in the nation.”

FUEL NY - $47,000,000
Comprehensive Gas Station Backup Power

New York State is first state in the nation to provide comprehensive gas station back-up power on critical routes. The State has made more than $25 million available to gas stations to meet a State requirement that every downstate gas station within a half-mile of a highway exit or a hurricane evacuation route have a generator in place within 24 hours of losing power; about 1000 stations downstate will be equipped with backup power. The Governor will extend the program statewide to cover all gas stations within a half mile of critical highways and evacuation routes Upstate.

Expanding the Strategic Fuel Reserve Statewide

The State has created the nation's first state-based Strategic Fuel Reserve, with a 3 million gallon reserve on Long Island. To prevent future supply disruptions, the Strategic Fuel Reserve will be expanded statewide to serve emergency responders. The Upstate Reserves will include both gasoline and diesel fuels and will have special distribution protocols that prioritize emergency responders and counties’ fuel suppliers.

New York State Sheriff's Association Executive Director Peter Kehoe, said, “The Strategic Fuel Reserve is a groundbreaking lifeline. Not only are we securing our energy infrastructure against future storms, we are giving the individuals who respond to these events and disasters the very resources that they need to maximize their capacity, and ensuring that our support systems and economy continue to function and thrive.”

New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director John Grebert, said, “The Governor’s leadership in the creation and continued investment in the Strategic Fuel Reserve is an extraordinary achievement for New York State, and a model for the country. We learned a vital lesson during Sandy. First responders throughout the state can now count on the critical resources that they need—gas and power—to work quickly and effectively in a weather emergency.”

To ensure that New Yorkers are the best prepared in the nation to deal with emergencies and disasters, Governor Cuomo will create a Citizen First Responder Corps. Beginning in January 2014, the New York National Guard and Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will offer free emergency response training in communities statewide with a goal of training 100,000 New Yorkers.

Training participants will also receive a NYS Disaster Preparedness Starter Kit that contains key items to assist individuals in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, including: a plastic drop cloth; light stick; two D batteries; first aid kit; face mask; safety goggles; AM/FM pocket radio with batteries; six packs of drinking water; six food bars; regular flashlight; emergency blanket; duct tape; work gloves; and water bottle.

Special License plates for First Responders

To help first responders access sites during emergencies, New York will provide them with a special license plate which identifies their status as a member of a first responder organization

Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York, said, "The men and women of the New York Army and Air National Guard understand the value of being prepared for any emergency, since our service members are always there to assist when disaster strikes. Our Soldiers and Airmen are proud to be part of the governor's effort to better prepare New Yorkers to handle floods, hurricanes, tornados, snowstorms or whatever nature can throw at us. We look forward to engaging our fellow New Yorkers in this important emergency preparedness training."

Expand NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program - $650,000,000

We will launch Phase II of the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program and will designate an additional 22 communities to develop their own plans and apply for $80 million of federal funds to implement approved projects. Under the current program, 102 communities across the state are already creating their own individualized storm resiliency plans and will share almost $570 million in federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding to put approved plans to action. A list of the new NY Rising Communities are as follows:

Bay Shore
Blenheim $3,000,000
Blooming Grove Town $3,000,000
Canarsie $11,944,036
Chenango Town $3,000,000
Clarkstown Town $3,000,000
Endicott Village $3,000,000
Fulton Town $3,000,000
Georgetown, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin $4,383,732
Gravesend $3,000,000
Middleburgh Town $3,000,000
Middletown City $3,000,000
Rosedale $3,000,000
Rye City $3,000,000
Schoharie Town $3,000,000
Schuylerville, Throgs Neck, Edgewater Park $3,000,000
Springfield Gardens South, Brookville $3,000,000
Suffern Village $3,000,000
Tioga Town $3,000,000
Wallkill Town $3,000,000
Windham Town $3,000,000
Yonkers City $3,000,000

“Governor Cuomo's bottom-up approach, with the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, is providing citizens an opportunity to improve their communities, said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “We look forward to working with the Governor to make their suggestions a reality.”

“The investments that the Governor is making to build the capacity of local communities will strengthen these areas for years to come,” said David Sorkin, Co-Chair of the Staten Island NY Rising Community Reconstruction Planning Committee, and Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island.

Debbie Preston, Broome County Executive, said, “Two years after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee tore through the Southern Tier, Broome County continues to feel their impact. The recovery process has been difficult, but thanks to Governor Cuomo’s partnership, we have made much progress. The State has been a steadfast supporter of our county’s own rebuilding efforts through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, and today he has expanded the program to include additional localities in Broome County, giving them the chance to compete for federal recovery funds. We thank him for his support and welcome this challenge to make the Southern Tier stronger for the future.”

Harden Existing Electrical Grid - $1,374,792,188

New York will utilize federal funds to harden the State’s existing electrical grid, including the move of approximately 500 miles of overhead primary wire underground, elevating vulnerable substations, expanded tree-trimming and raised power lines for newly elevated homes, and creating a new outage response system. With the new PSEG-Long Island in place in 2014, the State can take its ongoing fixes even further to protect Long Island against future storms.

Create 10 Microgrids - $40,000,000

Under an innovative program to create at least 10 “microgrids” (independent community-based electric distributions systems) statewide, the State will launch NY Prize, a $40 million competition, to help build community-scale power grids for areas with approximately 40,000 residents. Microgrids can operate in tandem with existing power supply during normal conditions, but will disconnect and operate as an independent power system to keep the lights on during an emergency.

Kevin Law, President and CEO of Long Island Association, said, “The Governor’s plan is propelling New York’s storm preparation into the 21st century. By investing funds into the expansion of the FUEL NY program and the hardening of our existing electrical grid, he is taking smart, necessary steps to ensure that New York has a reliable and stable energy network that can hold up during the next storm. In addition, the creation of 10 microgrids that can operate independently of our normal grid will serve as a reinforcement in communities that have no power. I commend the Governor on these bold, creative ideas that will undoubtedly make a difference in communities throughout New York.”

Coastal Protection - $1,794,461,757

The US Army Corps of Engineers, in concert with NYS Department of Environmental Protection, and the NYS Department of Parks and Historic Preservation, is embarking on a long-term program to protect 83 miles of exposed coastline. 
Flood Control - $147,167,550

New York will commence a series of projects across the state, including inland waterways, to provide flood control for communities and critical infrastructure. Among the innovative projects are:

  • Jamaica Bay/Southeast Queens Flood Protection: or Spring Creek, Jamaica Bay in Queens, the State plans to build a self-sustaining system of natural barriers along 150 acres that will reduce storm damage and protect Southeast Queens residents. 
  • Red Hook Flood Protection: To protect the low-lying neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn, the State is developing a $200 million partnership with New York City to construct a comprehensive flood management system – the 1st of its kind in the nation – in the community.
  • Staten Island South Shore Flood Protection: On the South Shore of Staten Island, New York State is buying out 321 homes in a vulnerable area subject to repeated flooding (Oakwood Beach). To act as a buffer, the State will build replace the neighborhood with a network of natural infrastructure protections, including tide gates, a maritime forest, a breakwater reef, tidal wetlands and earthen levees. This project will also include two miles of walks and wildlife observation points, creating new recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.
  • Troy Flood Protection: The state will reinforce parts of the 7,750 foot long Troy Seawall. The wall, which was constructed in 1916 and completed circa 1920, includes a sanitation outflow pipe and protects the foundations of a number of buildings. The wall has substantially deteriorated throughout due to ice flows, high velocity flooding and impact damage due to debris traveling downstream. If the wall becomes compromised during a heavy storm event it will likely fail in three different places and the area behind it will erode.
  • Amsterdam Flood Protection: New York will also reinforce parts of the Dove Creek Wall in Amsterdam. The 20 foot wide creek runs alongside St. Mary’s Hospital, and floods almost every year. The flooding in the last several years has resulted in at least $4.5 million of documented damage. Total failure of the wall, which is currently eroding at many points, could result in substantial flood damage to the hospital and other infrastructure.
  • Canal Corridor Flood Warning System: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved an $8.5 million flood mitigation warning system that will consist of a series of existing and new networked stream and precipitation gages, development and implementation of advanced hydrologic models, and a mechanism for disseminating information to the National Weather Service, state, emergency managers and the general public through various media on a real-time basis. The new system would provide advanced flood warning for 27 of New York State’s most flood prone counties with a population in excess of 2.6 million people in these basins, covering more than 13,000 square miles.
  • Schoharie Flood Protection System: $1 million to install a flood monitoring system in Schoharie. This system will consist of a series of existing and new networked stream and precipitation gages, development and implementation of advanced hydrologic models, and a mechanism for disseminating information to the National Weather Service, state, emergency managers and the general public through various media on a real-time basis.

"The major storms that have stuck our region in recent years have reminded New Yorkers that our coastlines remain vulnerable and that natural infrastructure can and must play a critical role in safeguarding lives and property. Governor Andrew Cuomo's long-term program will advance this objective and help to protect miles of New York's exposed coastlines and inland waterways via innovative restoration of wetlands and dunes in places like Jamaica Bay and Staten Island. These measures are among the most sensible steps we can take to help protect New Yorkers and their environment from flooding and storm surge threats posed by our changing climate," said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

TRANSPORTATION - $7,083,958,170
Massive Reconstruction of the Subway System - $5,100,000,000

The MTA is undertaking a $5 billion overhaul of New York’s mass transit systems – the largest reconstruction of the subway system in 110 years. Every facet of the system's infrastructure will be improved to withstand extreme weather. The State will invest in technologies to seal hundreds of subway and tunnel entrances, seal station stairways and increase pump capacity in stations and tunnels and projects to protect bus and train yards and the vital infrastructure that makes them run. The State will also explore permanent and temporary technologies to seal automobile and subway tunnels and prevent future flooding. Six under river tubes used by 1 million people a day will be rebuilt.

Strengthen Airports - $257,221,646

To make New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports more resilient, the Port Authority will use $257 million to install tide gates and drainage, new emergency generation capabilities and elevated fuel facilities, a new signage communications system, and build a flood wall at LaGuardia airport.

Replace Vulnerable Bridges - $486,000,000

Governor Cuomo will invest $486 million to replace 100 at-risk bridges not designed to withstand the new reality of extreme weather. The State will seek to use federal funds to replace or retrofit these bridges to ensure that they are fully protected against future threats. A full list of the bridges appears here.

Robert Yaro, President of the Regional Plan Association, said, “Governor Cuomo’s ‘Reimagining New York’ plan the most comprehensive approach to ensuring that New York is prepared for future natural disasters. The state is making an unprecedented investment into improving the MTA with new technologies to protect hundreds of subway and tunnel entrances, seal station stairways and increase pump capacity in stations and tunnels and projects to protect bus and train yards. This $5 billion overhaul, coupled with the $257 million in funding to strengthen airports will shore up our state so that we can withstand any extreme weather Mother Nature throws our way. I commend the Governor on this ambitious vision and look forward to working with him to make it a reality.”

Counties and municipalities will use federal funds to improve wastewater systems. There are 610 municipal wastewater treatment plants in New York, 1,060 sewage collection systems and 22,000 miles of sewers—more than 30 percent of which are over 60 years old and beyond their expected useful life. During Superstorm Sandy, 200 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into waterways and salt water destroyed vital electrical systems and engines at plants on Long Island and in New York City. The Governor will distribute funds to allow communities to protect against future storms through the construction of dikes, levees, and movable floodwalls, including the Bergen Point Wastewater Treatment Facility in Suffolk County and the Bay Park plant in Nassau County.

Guy Nordenson, Partner at Guy JP Nordenson and Associates and Professor at Princeton University said, “Anticipating the consequences of the changing weather conditions and more extreme storms is an important step that Governor Cuomo has started with his coastal protection and resilience plans. I think it is a great idea to reinvent areas of New York to be more resilient using natural infrastructure such as wetlands, barrier reefs and dunes. Together with levees, tidal barriers, and wastewater infrastructure protections, this approach will attenuate the force of, and protect against future extreme coastal storms".

Housing reconstruction programs include $967 million for homeowner rehab and reconstruction, $368 million for home buyouts in areas vulnerable to repeated flooding, $99 million for multifamily reconstruction, and $35 million for mortgage assistance.

Donald Capoccia, President of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, said, “Governor Cuomo’s unwavering leadership on storm recovery has been critical in New York State's efforts to overcome the devastation caused by recent natural disasters. While affordable housing is a continuing need, for those New Yorkers displaced from their homes, the need has never been greater. We look forward to partnering with government and the local communities to ensure this funding supports safe and resilient housing, and creates the jobs and economic activity necessary to the full recovery of storm-impacted areas."

Support to more than 600 healthcare and human service providers and other community-based organizations. This investment will provide approximately $315 million for immediate emergency response, repair, rebuilding and renovation costs resulting from Superstorm Sandy; $52 million for unreimbursed operating costs during and after Sandy; $70 million for ongoing or new services to meet the continuing needs of Sandy-impacted New Yorkers; and $11 million for other eligible health and social services costs.

"Vice President Biden - and the entire Obama Administration - and Governor Cuomo have been excellent partners in ensuring New York's recovery from Hurricane Sandy," said Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee who took a leading role in the passage of a $60 billion relief package in the wake of the storm. "This effort has been an excellent example of effective coordination at every level of government. We are committed to rebuilding our communities, homes, businesses, and infrastructure so that we can restore our economy and mitigate similar damage in future storms 
A breakdown of all the funding is below:

Sector Category Funding
Energy Electric Grid Resilience $1,374,792,188
  Microgrid $40,000,000
Sub-Total   $1,414,792,188
Transportation MTA-Transit $5,100,000,000
  Roads and Bridges $760,240,231
  Port Authority-WTC $966,496,293
  Airports $257,221,646
Sub-Total   $7,083,958,170
Coastal Protection/Flood Control Flood Control $147,167,550
  Coastal Mitigation $1,794,461,757
Sub-Total   $1,941,629,307
Water-Wastewater Wastewater treatment, repair and mitigation $1,620,737,493
Sub-Total   $1,620,737,493
Public Facility Repair Public Facility Repair $2,048,865,295
Sub-Total   $2,048,865,295
Emergency Management Weather Detection $18,650,000
  FUEL NY $47,000,000
> Resilience Institute $2,700,000
  Citizen First Responder Corps $5,000,000
  SUNY College N/A
Sub-Total   $73,350,000
Community Resilience NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program $650,000,000
Sub-Total   $650,000,000
Housing Homeowner Rehab and Reconstruction $967,200,000
  Buyout $368,000,000
  Multi-family $99,660,289
  Interim Mortgage Assistance $35,000,000
Sub-Total   $1,469,860,289
Health and Human Services Support to Health Services Institutions $446,416,232
Sub-Total   $446,416,232
TOTAL   $16,749,608,975

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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