Governor Cuomo will ask the federal government for $30 billion in aid to help New York State recover from Hurricane Sandy, the NY Times reports. The $30 billion figure is five times the initial damage guesstimate floated by Cuomo two days after Sandy's surge, when he wrote in a letter to President Obama that "initial estimates project up to $6 billion in lost economic revenue in the greater metropolitan area and the state." The new $30 billion number would exceed the $12 billion in FEMA disaster aid currently available in Washington, and would require action from Congress.

According to the Times, Cuomo's strategy involves persuading the federal government to make an emergency appropriation during a lame-duck session of Congress that begins on Tuesday. Of course, the request comes at a moment when fiscal belt-tightening is the dominant narrative in Washington, and it will be interesting to see how the relief money is used in budget negotiations with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And Cuomo isn't the only one with his hand out: other states hammered by Sandy will also be seeking federal relief funds, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Insiders in the Cuomo administration tell the Times that the Governor would like to use the money not just for immediate relief for businesses and homeowners, but also to invest in New York's decaying infrastructure and to better prepare the state for these sorts of weather catastrophes. Sources say Cuomo intends to improve gas pipelines to reduce New York's dependency on gas shipments through ports in New Jersey, where seven petroleum terminals were shut down due to the hurricane. The money could also be used to create an electricity "smart grid" to help utility companies respond to power failures, and to create a New York State "emergency petroleum reserve."

President Obama will visit disaster areas in New York on Thursday.