Hurricane Sandy Damage More Than $33 Billion In New York

Hurricane Sandy’s damage cost is set to exceed $33 billion after it slammed into the Eastern United States just before Halloween, damaging homes, flooding subways, and wiping out entire neighborhoods.

The initial estimate as Sandy hit the East Coast was $20 billion, but now New York Governor Andrew Cuomo believes that the damage from Sandy could actually exceed $33 billion, reports CBS News.

The area was also hit on Wednesday and Thursday by another nor’easter, which dumped snow, brought down power lines again, and left hundreds of thousands of customers in the dark again.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and officials on Long Island have decided to begin rationing gas while they work to get more into the area. Bloomberg stated:

“Last week’s storm hit the fuel network hard — and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline.”

Rationing gas in the area will begin on Friday after low gasoline supplies caused long lines and frustrated residents. Drivers will alternate days they are allowed to fill up based on if their license plate ends in an odd or even number.

The Detroit Free Press notes that Bloomberg believes that tight gas supplies may last another couple of weeks. A damage forecasting firm had previously estimated Sandy may have caused between $30 and $50 billion in economic losses in the Atlantic between the Carolinas and Main. The estimate includes property damage, lost business, and extra living expenses.

With Cuomo’s estimate of $33 billion or more for New York alone, the bill will likely be much higher than the initial estimate. Even a damage estimate of $50 billion would make Hurricane Sandy the second most expensive storm to hit the US, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Sandy flooded New York City and New Jersey with a storm surge that was 14 feet high in some places. It killed more than 100 people and left more than 8.5 million homes without power. When talking about the power and fuel supply systems, Cuomo stated:

“We are going to have to look at a ground-up design. With power outages, you paralyze the nation, and chaos ensues.”

Cuomo especially noted the problems in New York City with the storm surge that inundated utilities 15 to 20 stories underground. He said, “That’s a brilliant engineering masterpiece, yes, gut if Manhattan floods, you flood all that infrastructure. We don’t even have a way to pump it out.”

With Winter Storm Athena’s additional damage, it will be a long time before the East Coast, whose Sandy damage could exceed $50 billion overall, gets back to normal.