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Cuomo: 'Extreme weather' needs new reality

Oct. 30, 2012 at 5:54 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters when inspecting the World Trade Center the state needs to rebuild for a "new reality" due to "extreme weather events."

Cuomo, inspecting lower Manhattan Tuesday for damage from Hurricane Sandy, said flooding from Irene, Lee and Sandy have convinced him that New York City and the rest of the state face "a new reality of extreme weather events" and should be reconfigured to deal with it, the Albany Times Union reported.

The governor, a Democrat, joked that he told President Barack Obama New York "has a 100-year flood every two years now." However, at a later news conference, the governor was more serious.

"I'm hopeful that not only will we rebuild this city and metropolitan area but use this as an opportunity to build it back smarter. There have been a series of extreme weather events. That is not a political statement; that is a factual statement," Cuomo told the reporters. "Anyone who says there is not a change in weather patterns is denying reality. We have a new reality when it comes to these weather patterns; we have an old infrastructure, we have old systems. That is not a good combination and that is one of the lessons I will take from this, personally."

In 2007, New York experienced a 100-year flood after a rainfall of several inches coupled with spin runoff.

However, last year, in addition to flooding in New York City and Long Island, Hurricane Irene's more than 12 inches of rain flooded towns upstate near Albany.

Parts of Washingtonville were under 8 feet of water during the storm due to the flash flood of Moodna Creek and record flooding along the Schoharie Creek destroyed the 156-year-old Old Blenheim Bridge, a National Historic Landmark.

Local officials said about a third of all the houses and businesses in the village of Schoharie had been destroyed due to flash floods. Alarms went off that the Gilboa Dam, built in 1926 as part of New York City's water supply, had failed, but in reality the dam had not failed. However, first responders evacuated people downstream from the 120-foot high dam that holds about 18 billion gallons of water.

Also, shortly after Hurricane Irene, heavy rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee brought flooding to the Susquehanna River valley, dropping 10 to 12 inches of rain in the Binghamton N.Y., area, just north of the Pennsylvania border.

River gauges recorded water levels as high as 17 feet above flood stage, topping the previous flood record from 2006.

Two months after Hurricane Irene, the Halloween Nor'easter, which followed an East Coast path similar to Hurricane Sandy, dropped 1 to 20 inches of snow, on trees still bearing green leaves. The weight of the snow and the leaves resulted in trees and branches collapsing and pulling down power lines, putting more than 3 million in the dark and in freezing temperatures in 12 states and three Canadian provinces.

Western Massachusetts, where the New England tornado outbreak and Hurricane Irene had earlier hit, was especially hard hit.

Connecticut had 830,000 customers without power -- some for as long as two weeks after the storm.

John Miksad, Consolidated Edison Inc.'s senior vice president of electric operations, told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, about 800,000 Con Ed customers in the city and Westchester County who were without power, might have to wait about week.

"It certainly could be up to a week. About 350,000 customers lost power due to the branches pulling down power lines," he told the Journal. "The largest storm we ever had was Irene last year at 200,000. So we're in uncharted territory. We could be talking -- depending on the amount of help we get -- up to two weeks."

In Manhattan, the 13th Street substation exploded. Several feet of water is being pumped out but Miksad said the cause of the explosion was still undetermined.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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