Superstorm Sandy was worse than 2005's Hurricane Katrina in some ways, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says, arguing that his state will need $42 billion US to recover and rebuild.

The sum is intended not only to cover repairs and restoration, but also $9 billion of investment in preventive measures such as protecting power and cellphone networks against future storms.

"It's common sense; it's intelligent," Cuomo said. "Why don't you spend some money now to save money in the future? And that's what prevention and mitigation is."

There has also been mention of more physical measures to protect lower Manhattan, such as restoring wetlands that would absorb onrushing water as they do closer to Kennedy Airport.

'Tax increases are always a last, last, last resort.' —Andrew Cuomo, New York governor

Sandy's storm surge at the end of October raised the water level in New York Harbour by an unprecedented 4.3 metres, filling subway lines and tunnels and disrupting the northeast's major oil distribution centre located there.

The recovery from Sandy's effects has left behind a new pessimism about New York's prospects as sea levels rise and storms grow more intense with global warming.

Sunday's New York Times, for example, featured an analysis headlined "Is This the End?" accompanied by an underwater view of a submerged Statue of Liberty.

Questions have also been raised about how appropriate it is for the U.S. to rebuild areas almost certain to be destroyed by future storms.

All told, along the East Coast, most recent estimates indicate damage totalled more than $62 billion from Sandy in late October. More than 100 people died. Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people in 2005 and caused some $108 billion in damage along the Gulf Coast, flooding New Orleans.

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Comparisons of Sandy to Katrina, which swamped New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, put the East Coast's recovery "in focus," Cuomo declared, saying Sandy hit a more densely populated region and caused more costly damage than Katrina.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has put the preliminary damage estimate in his state at more than $29 billion. He announced Monday that he couldn't abandon the state during its recovery and would seek re-election next year.

As Cuomo and other political leaders in his state conferred on how much federal aid to seek, he said New York taxpayers can't foot the bill.

"It would incapacitate the state," he said at Monday. "Tax increases are always a last, last, last resort."

Sandy swamped coastal areas, toppled trees and dumped snow inland, and the most recent estimates indicate damage totalling more than $62 billion in several eastern states, with New York and New Jersey accounting for the lion's share.

With files from The Associated Press