The city’s costs associated with Hurricane Sandy could reach $200 million, City Manager Jack Schnirman said, but most, if not all, of the bill is expected to be picked up by the federal government.
Last year, Tropical Storm Irene caused more than $2 million in damage in Long Beach, most of which was reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But Irene paled in comparison with the damage left by Sandy, with its 80- to 90-mph winds and 10-foot storm surge, which decimated the beachfront and bay front.
“We’re looking at an enormous, long-term rebuilding effort,” Schnirman explained. “We’re still in recovery, obviously, and we’re planning for rebuilding. What we’re looking at here is damage 100 times greater than Hurricane Irene. We’re looking at 200 million dollars, and that’s just the city’s cost, so the level of damage is truly astounding and it’s going to take time.”
Typically, FEMA reimburses up to 75 percent of such costs, with the state and local municipalities responsible for the remaining 25 percent. But there have been instances — such as Hurricane Katrina — when the federal government has covered up to 90 percent of storm-related costs.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on New York’s congressional delegation to pass legislation that would allow the federal government to reimburse the state and municipalities like Long Beach 100 percent of storm costs instead of 90 percent, which current law allows the president to authorize.
Schnirman said that the city, which was already struggling with a $10 million deficit, expected to receive significant federal and state aid to help defray the costs of the recovery. He did not say whether its deficit was expected to grow as a result of the storm.
“Those discussions are going to be starting,” Schnirman said. “We’re going to have every bit of outside government and private expertise and assistance that we need. We’ll have everyone at the table. We’re very thankful that we’re getting the resources that we need and the resources that we’re demanding, and the cooperation from the governor, the county executive and our state senator have been excellent.”