ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday New York needs $42 billion to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy and take steps to limit such devastation in the future.
Cuomo met in Albany with the state's congressional delegation, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and officials from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties to assess damage from the Halloween-week superstorm that devastated parts of the East Coast.
"The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is of unprecedented proportions, ranking among the worst natural disasters in our nation's history in terms of loss of life, property damage, and economic impact," Cuomo said.
Cuomo estimated the storm caused $32.8 billion in damage. He also estimated the state will need $9.1 billion for "commonsense" mitigation and prevention projects, including flood protection for the World Trade Center site and road and subway tunnels, fuel supply system power generation and sewage treatment protection, and secondary power supply systems for hospitals.
"We will do everything we can to maximize the relief New York receives," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "Make no mistake, this will not be an easy task, particularly given the impending 'fiscal cliff,' and a Congress that has been much less friendly to disaster relief than in the past. ... We will not rest until the federal response meets New York's deep and extensive needs."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the federal government must step in.
"Images of the devastation New York suffered from Hurricane Sandy only tells half the story," she said. "I have spent day after day meeting with New York families whose lives have been shattered, their homes destroyed and businesses in rubble. New Yorkers are resilient, we bend but we do not break, but we can't do it alone."
"Given the catastrophic damage inflicted on New York, I am committed to working with Governor Cuomo and the congressional delegation to ensure that Long Island and New York get the federal assistance they need to recover," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.
Quinn sets special dates for Jackson seat
CHICAGO, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn set the dates to fill former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat: Feb. 26 for the primary and March 19 for the general election.
In announcing the special election on his Twitter page Monday, Quinn also posted, "I will work with lawmakers to move the general election to Apr. 9, which will save money by coinciding with local elections."
Jackson resigned last week.
Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., announced her candidacy Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Halvorson unsuccessfully challenged Jackson in the March 20 primary, picking up about 24 percent of the vote to 58 percent for Jackson. She represented the 11th Congressional District from 2009 to 2011 and was a state senator for 12 years prior to that. After redistricting, she wound up in Jackson's 2nd Congressional District.
Jackson resigned his seat Wednesday to deal with legal issues, including an investigation into whether he misused campaign funds.
Jackson, 47, had been on medical leave from Congress since June and has been receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. After he left the clinic for the second time recently, media reports indicated a federal investigation of alleged misuse of campaign funds to pay for personal items had included his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, who reportedly receives $2,000 a month as a political consultant.
Jackson was reported in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors. The Sun-Times said Jackson hired attorney Dan Webb, a former federal prosecutor.
Bug-eating contest winner choked to death
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A Florida man who died after wolfing down worms and cockroaches to win a contest choked to death, autopsy results released Monday showed.
Broward County Medical Examiner Craig Mallak said the death of Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach, was an accident, The Miami Herald reported.
Mallak said Archbold's airway was clogged with "arthropod body parts" and he died of asphyxia. The autopsy ruled out toxic substances as the cause of death, the newspaper said.
Authorities had said previously Archbold had eaten dozens of cockroaches and worms to win an Oct. 5 contest at a Deerfield Beach pet shop. The prize was a female Ivory Ball python valued at $850 the father of two had wanted to give to a friend, the Herald reported earlier.
No other contestants experienced any symptoms, the newspaper said.
Mexican pageant queen killed in shootout
SINALOA, Mexico, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Maria Susana Flores Gamez, the 20-year-old winner of the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa beauty pageant, was killed during a shootout in her native Mexico.
CNN quoted authorities as saying Monday Gamez was killed, along with two men, Saturday during a clash between criminals and military troops in Mocorito.
The state attorney general told the American television news network Gamez is suspected of having ties to criminals, but offered no details regarding that alleged connection.
"We are dismayed by the news -- a beautiful young person, happy, and with a big future ahead of her," organizers of the Our Sinaloa Beauty 2012 beauty pageant, of which Gamiz was also a contestant, said in a statement to CNN Monday. "Rest in peace, Susy."
CNN did not specify her fatal injuries or say if any arrests were made in the triple homicide.