He spoke Wednesday in Prattsville, a Catskills Mountain community that like many others was hard hit by the torrential rains and wind over the weekend.
He was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Cuomo says 600 homes were damaged and 150 major highways were disrupted by the storm. The damage to farms has been pegged at $45 million.
The governor says New York paid a "terrible, terrible price" for Irene. But he vows the state will "rebuild better than it was before."