Whoever is tallying the bill for Hurricane Sandy (Paul Ryan, maybe? Chris Christie?) needs to add another $400 million in the “expenses” column. That’s how much New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) plans to spend to buy storm-damaged houses, raze them, and leave the land vacant.

From The New York Times:

The purchase program, which still requires approval from federal officials, would be among the most ambitious ever undertaken, not only in scale but also in how Mr. Cuomo would be using the money to begin reshaping coastal land use. Residents living in flood plains with homes that were significantly damaged would be offered the pre-storm value of their houses to relocate; those in even more vulnerable areas would be offered a bonus to sell; and in a small number of highly flood-prone areas, the state would double the bonus if an entire block of homeowners agreed to leave.

The land would never be built on again. Some properties could be turned into dunes, wetlands or other natural buffers that would help protect coastal communities from ferocious storms; other parcels could be combined and turned into public parkland.

jenna_pope_sandy
Jenna Pope

The governor telegraphed this announcement last week. And it’s a good idea — albeit not a cheap one. In order for it to proceed, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, created by President Obama, has to sign off. As of right now, the organization is noncommital.

Some residents aren’t excited about the prospect of resettling.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., a Democrat who represents Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways, said that in his district of more than 300,000 people, perhaps three had asked him for information about selling their homes to the government. “These are residents that chose to live by the water,” he said. “They’re not going anywhere.”

To which the Atlantic Ocean responded by chuckling softly. “We’ll see,” it whispered.