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ALBANY — Cleanup of hard-hit areas in New York from Tropical Storm Irene is expected to take months because roads and bridges have to be rebuilt, farms restored and infrastructure reconstructed.

While experts say the flooding was impossible to prevent, the storm that ravaged upstate wasn’t initially expected because most of the original focus was on New York City and its suburbs — which ultimately didn’t get hit as badly as rural areas.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said the storm showed the state has to develop a better emergency-response system, and he plans to hold a hearing on the state and federal response to Irene.

“Everybody in government should accept blame for the fact that New York state right now, 10 years after 9/11, is not prepared for either a man-made or natural disaster,” said Ball, who heads the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs.

Howard Glaser, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s director of state operations, on Thursday defended the state’s preparations for Irene, saying it was ready for the storm’s impact on upstate communities.

“While the TV cameras were focused on downstate, our state emergency-management efforts were focused on all of the state that was at risk,” he told Gannett’s Albany bureau.

Days before the storm, the state asked operators of a number of upstate reservoirs to draw down water, Glaser said.

The state also pre-positioned personnel, supplies and equipment upstate, he said.

Cuomo was on the ground in Margaretville, Delaware County, on Sunday, while all the attention was still downstate, Glaser said. As the storm track became clearer that day, state officials began to focus on counties that were getting the most damage. They positioned National Guard troops and equipment so they would be

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