- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - A year and a half after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, a major city emergency facility that was destroyed finally fully reopened Thursday - with waterproof walls.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and other dignitaries to celebrate the emergency complex at the NYU Langone Medical Center, which is now triple the size of the old one and equipped with the latest technology.

The Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services has more treatment rooms and space for pediatric medicine, with added activities for kids.

It’s named after the New York billionaire and Langone trustee who donated $50 million to finance the new 22,000-square-foot facility.

“I can assure you that this is going to be the best of its kind in the world, with the best care and the best equipment,” Perelman said during a news conference at the medical center on Manhattan’s East Side.

The room was filled with New York wealth and politics - including Home Depot mogul Ken Langone, chairman of Republicans for Cuomo whose name the hospital bears. The governor, who is running for re-election, is a Democrat.

Cuomo told the gathering that the rebuilt emergency room represents the spirit of New York.

“New Yorkers have a history of experiencing tragedy, refusing to be defeated, reengineering, and re-emerging better than before,” the governor said.

On Oct. 29, 2012, the storm surge sent 15 million gallons of water rushing into NYU Langone, which lost its backup generator power. More than 300 patients had to be evacuated, with flashlights to guide patients on “med sleds” to the street and other hospitals.

Most services were back by the end of January 2013, but others - including the emergency center - have come back in phases after about $150 million in repairs.

On Thursday, de Blasio praised the staff.

“There’s so much strength, so much professionalism, so much talent in this room,” the mayor said. “I hope you all realize that what you did in the hours after Sandy was nothing short of a miracle.”

The repair work is hardly over.

Construction still can be seen from street level hallways, with workers and equipment both inside and outside helping the hospital to return to normal - or better than it was, officials said.

“It’s high-tech, beautiful and welcoming to children,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney said, adding to a burst of laughter. “It almost makes me feel like I want an emergency.”

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