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Gov. Cuomo's grand plan post-Sandy: give some of New York back to nature (+video)

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In the wake of the Oct. 29 storm that damaged or destroyed more than 300,000 housing units in New York state, Cuomo has issued controversial warnings about climate change and has led efforts to find long-term solutions against future storms and floods.

“Climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality, it is a reality that we are vulnerable,” Cuomo said at a Sandy-recovery briefing in October. “Protecting this state from coastal flooding is a massive, massive undertaking. But it’s a conversation I think is overdue.”

In more recent speeches, Cuomo has suggested residents should abandon flood-prone areas. “There are some parcels that Mother Nature owns,” he said in his January State of the State address. “She may visit once every few years, but she owns the parcel and when she comes to visit, she visits.”

As part of his plan to return parcels of land to nature, Cuomo has proposed using federal and disaster relief funds to purchase and raze roughly 10,000 homes destroyed by Sandy in the 100-year floodplain, a zone that has a 1 percent chance each year of experiencing greater than normal flooding.

Under the proposal, the state would offer homeowners the pre-storm full market value of their house. Those in severe flood-prone areas would receive a 10 percent bonus above market value as an added incentive to sell. In extreme-risk areas, the state would offer an additional 10 percent bonus if every homeowner on a block signed up for the buyout.

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