Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that LaGuardia Airport will get $37.5 million to install improvements like concrete flood walls and new drainage systems. NY1's Steve Kastenbaum filed the following report.
Surrounded on three sides by water, LaGuardia Airport has always been vulnerable to storms, but when Hurricane Sandy blew through, the runways became one with Flushing Bay. The flood damage forced the closure of one of the busiest airports in the U.S. for three days.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that the region can't afford to allow that to happen again.
"Our goal is not to rebuild what was from Hurricane Sandy," he said. "Our goal is to build back better than before."
The concern is that more extreme storms like Hurricane Sandy will hit our area in the near future, and for every day that LaGuardia is closed to flights, officials say the city loses $54 million in economic activity.
The state is plugging $40 million into a year-long project here at LaGuardia Airport. They can't make it storm-proof, but they can make improvements that will make it much more resistant to flooding and the damage that it causes.
"So putting up barriers to keep the water from coming in in the first place, installing gravity drains throughout the runways so if the walls and the barriers are breached, the water will drain quickly."
They'll also make improvements to the power grid and install new above-ground generators.
Folks catching flights at the main terminal said that anything that keeps planes moving is worth the investment.
"I think that's an excellent idea because one of the problems with LaGuardia Airport, whenever you have a storm or anything, the first thing to be shut down before the subways are LaGuardia Airport."
"I think it's a necessary thing that they need to do in order to ensure that both business people and leisure travelers can make sure they get to and from their destination, keep the city open, keep the city running and keep tourists, who bring lots of money to the city as well."
Part of the cost will be covered by $28 million in federal Hurricane Sandy recovery funds.
While the improvements will take about a year to complete, some of the projects are already underway.