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In Manahawkin, Christie Said 'Bridgegate' Won't Stop Storm Recovery

The governor made several oblique references to the "Bridgegate" scandal, noting the large phalanx of photographers and reporters present at the firehouse event

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NJ101.5
He postponed his first attempt to appear in Manahawkin because of the breaking "Bridgegate" scandal.

But he never planned to cancel an appearance that would promote, once again, Gov. Chris Christie's role in helping New Jersey to recover from its worst storm ever.

And he told the gathering that will never stop helping New Jersey - even as investigative committees begin to probe his staff's involvement in the closure of George Washington Bridge lanes last September that was an apparent act of political retribution.

"Whatever tests they put in front of me, I will meet those tests, because I’m doing it on your behalf,” he said.

Christie told the gathering that the $37 billion in federal funds allocated for New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are not enough to cover the cost of recovery.

"We asked for a lot more than we got," Christie said at an appearance at the Stafford Volunteer Company firehouse in Manahawkin Thursday.

"None of us need to be a math wizard to figure out it's not going to be enough money to cover everything," Christie said.

During his talk, the governor made several oblique references to the "Bridgegate" scandal, noting the large phalanx of photographers and reporters present at the firehouse event.

"There are all kinds of challenges, as you know, that come everyday to test you," he said. 

But he stayed close to the topic at hand. He introduced a woman identified only as "Amy," a Sandy victim whose home was destroyed in the storm. She spoke in a trembling voice.

"I've been so blessed," she said. "I could not be where I am today without the help I received to get back home. It's just such an honor to be here with the governor."

Christie told the crowd of about 300 his office and the members of the state Department of Community Affairs devote 50 percent of their time each day to Sandy recovery.

The state was able to funnel some of Sandy business recovery funds into the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) and Homeowner's Resettlement Program, the governor said.

State officials and the state Department of Community Affairs have focused first on getting money to low and middle-income residents, he said. 

"We help people who need help the most, then move on down the line," Christie said.

The governor said he understands residents' impatience with receiving funding to repair or elevate their homes.

"Is it as fast as I'd like?" he said. "No. "

There were many funding abuses after Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 and more proof of need is now required," Christie said.

"We need proof of income, assets...," he said. "Every time we ask for more paperwork, it's more time. I get that."

Christie was accompanied by DCA director Richard J. Constable III, Stafford Mayor John Spodofora, Township Administrator James Moran and several members of the Township Council.

The governor stuck to his predication made after the October 29, 2012 that recovery would take at least two years.

"Recovery from Sandy is going to take a long time," Christie said. "At least two years before most people in the state. Things don't happen overnight.  We've never done this before."

Roughly 340,000 homes in New Jersey were significantly damaged or destroyed by Sandy and shore businesses were hurt, he said.

"I can tell you I was thinking we are not to have any summer (2013)," he said. "I was scared to deal with the devastation...what that would do to the shore."

Christie pledged to keep pushing for more funding and continuing recovery efforts.

"We won't rest until every Sandy-impacted homeowner or renter is back in their homes," he said.

The governor took no questions and left the event quickly after it was over.
Josh Duyal January 17, 2014 at 06:59 PM
What recovery? Didn't they already screw it up, Obama included.

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