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Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Hurricane Is A Wake Up Call To Improve America’s Infrastructure

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"Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Hurricane Is A Wake Up Call To Improve America’s Infrastructure"

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)

Hurricane Irene, which hit the east coast of the United States over the weekend, “left an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion of damage in its wake — without even accounting for economic losses.” Though the damage was not quite as extensive as some original estimates, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already had to divert funding from other disaster relief in order to begin the process of helping those affected by the storm.

New Jersey alone may have suffered billions of dollars in damages. On NBC’s Meet The Press yesterday, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, said the hurricane should act as a wake-up call to policymakers to upgrade the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. “We’re seeing, in the city of Newark, lots of flooding and problems because our infrastructure is getting very aged, and we haven’t had the kind of investment or the resources to put the investment into it to keep our infrastructure strong and safe,” Booker said:

GREGORY: You know, Mayor, I want to ask you something I asked Governor Christie as well, which I think is an important bigger question out of all of this, which is how prepared are we as a country, not just the city of Newark or the state of New Jersey, but as a country, to deal with disasters of any magnitude? On a week when you had Hurricane Irene, on a week when you also had an earthquake that is so rare along the East Coast?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I’m proud of my president, I’m proud of my governor for both jumping in and being very, very pre-cautious by calling a state of emergency. It’s much better to be prepared for an emergency and not have one than have an emergency and not be prepared. But to your point, I’m very concerned in our country that we have not been investing in infrastructure like we need to. We’re seeing, in the city of Newark, lots of flooding and problems because our infrastructure is getting very aged, and we haven’t had the kind of investment or the resources to put the investment into it to keep our infrastructure strong and safe. And I know this is a problem from around the country. I’ve talked to many mayors. We need to begin to understand that investments in infrastructure is actually going to save us money over the long term. It’s going to keep people safe and it’s actually going to help our economy as well.

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According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure needs a five-year, $2.2 trillion investment in order to be brought into adequate shape. When it comes to flood prevention, the Engineers note that “more than 85% of the nation’s estimated 100,000 miles of levees are locally owned and maintained” and that “the reliability of many of these levees is unknown.”

It would take an investment of more than $100 billion to bring America’s levees up to the proper standard. House Republicans, however, are trying to enact cuts to infrastructure spending, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said any federal aid sent to areas affected by the hurricane should be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. (HT: Politico Live)

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