As temperatures plummeted in New York on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a heated speech outlining plans to build a new weather detection system, seal subways from floods and deputize citizens as emergency responders in the ongoing fight against extreme weather.
“[We are] reimagining New York for a new reality because we are facing a new New York after what we went through,” Cuomo said.
“Extreme weather is the new reality, like it or not.”
The governor was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who, Cuomo said, represented the federal government’s support in the state’s efforts to recover from the super storm last year.
“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the funding from the federal government,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s $17 billion plan included a more sophisticated weather detection system, with more stations throughout the state.
He also outlined the first massive reconstruction of the city’s subway system since it was created more than 100 years ago, with better protection of train yards. He said the state was looking into experimental seals to stop water from entering subway openings.
The energy system also showed vulnerability during Sandy, he said, prompting an urgency to raise substations out of flood zones, particularly on Long Island, and for critical underground lines to be strengthened.
Cuomo emphasized restoring coastal protection through natural green infrastructure by “replacing what Mother Nature had there in the first place.”
We need to revisit how we design homes near the coast, and other flood zones, and consider building structures on stilts, the governor said.
Following the fuel crisis during Sandy, backup generators were mandated downstate and New York became the first state to establish a strategic fuel reserve, which is now on Long Island. Both those initiatives will be extended statewide, Cuomo said.
The Governor said he wanted the state’s emergency responders and its citizens to be prepared for the next storm by establishing the first-ever statewide training program for emergency personnel and the country’s first college for emergency preparedness.
The state is also going to create a “Citizen First Responder Corps,” with the goal of training 100,000 New Yorkers for “what to do in case of an emergency,” he said.