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Obama official says it may not make sense to rebuild all areas hit by Sandy

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Albany/HV: Obama official says it may not make sense to rebuild all areas hit by Sandy
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The top federal official overseeing the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort said Thursday it may not make sense to rebuild all the areas hardest hit by the storm, remarks that are at odds with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vision for the city in the wake of Sandy. YNN's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

NEW YORK -- A top official from the Obama administration said Thursday that for some areas struggling to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy, it may not be the best decision to rebuild.

"In most places we can rebuild with smart mitigation measures. Elevate homes, take other steps," said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. "There will be some small share of communities, though, where it makes sense, and I would emphasize very small share, where it may not make sense to rebuild at all.

Donovan is leading the federal government's Sandy recovery effort. He did not give specifics about where rebuilding might be abandoned in the region.

"It may be as small as a block or a couple of blocks, but that is something we have to think about," he said.

A spokesman for Donovan emphasized that local officials will have the final say on what they want reconstructed after the storm.

During a visit to the city, Donovan said physical blockades, like sea barriers, need to be considered as well.

"I don't think we should take anything off the table," he said.

His comments differ significantly from what New Yorkers have heard from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor is vowing to rebuild all of the city, and he is showing no interest in constructing a storm barrier to prevent flooding.

"I don't think we are going to go rip down people's houses, and I don't see how you would build a sea wall," Bloomberg said. "We spent an awful lot of years here trying to reconnect with the water. We're not going to build a barrier and keep us away from the water. It is a ridiculous question, if you really want to know."

One area where the two seem to see eye to eye is over the need for federal dollars. Donovan is also calling on Congress to act quickly to approve a $60 billion dollar aid package he said the region so desperately needs. He said any holdup would have serious consequences.

"We will have tens of thousands of families and small businesses that literally have no way to plan for their future," he said.

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