Cuomo: Whoever doesn’t see extreme weather pattern is ‘denying reality’

Cuomo on Long Beach yesterday. (Cuomo's flickr stream)
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Governor Andrew Cuomo thinks New York needs to prepare for more Sandys and Irenes.

"Going forward, I think we do have to anticipate these extreme types of weather patterns," said the freshman governor, who has dealt with two major hurricanes since taking office in 2011. "And we have to start to think about how do we redesign the system so this doesn't happen again. After what happened, what has been happening in the last few years, I don't think anyone can sit back anymore and say 'Well, I'm shocked at that weather pattern.' "There is no weather pattern that can shock me at this point. And I think that has to be our attitude. And how do we redesign our system and our infrastructure assuming that?"

Cuomo, speaking to reporters from his Manhattan office, said the conditions in Lower Manhattan last night were "historic."

"You did not have ocean water, salt water, breaching the banks the way you've had it in Manhattan, you know, in my lifetime," said the 55-year-old governor. "This is of a generation."

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"When you start to fill the subway tunnels with salt water—much of the Con Ed equipment is in the tunnels, is underground—when hot electrical equipment hits cold salt water, that is a bad combination. And that is a design flaw, I believe, for our system now, if you anticipate these extreme weather conditions."

"Obviously," Cuomo said, echoing what some experts have been saying for a while, "we didn't when we designed this system. We did not anticipate water coming over the Hudson River, coming over the banks, being five feet deep on the West Side Highway, and filling subway grates and every opening and filling that massive infrastructure we have below ground."

Cuomo excused himself early in order to speak with President Barack Obama about securing federal aide for recovery.

At one point during the press conference, Cuomo said the recovery and rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy could be an opportunity to "rebuild smarter."

"There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement, that is a factual statement," Cuomo said. "Anyone who says there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns is denying reality."

He didn't actually say the words "global warming." 

But he said, "I said the president kiddingly the other day, 'We have a one-hundred year flood every two years.'"