Seaside Park, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie thanked volunteers and first responders for helping the state begin to recover from Superstorm Sandy and said there is still a lot of work get done.
Mr. Christie, a Republican, said the first anniversary of the storm is a chance to “take a breath” and appreciate how far the state has come since the winds and rain slammed into its Atlantic shoreline a year ago, leaving tens of thousands homeless and a number of people dead in its path.
“We also have to acknowledge that there are still thousands of people still out of their homes, and for them it doesn’t matter that tens of thousands of people are back in their homes,” he said. “To them, it is only going to matter when they get back in their home. So that has to be our mission as we move forward — that is not to forget those folks.”
The stop here at the Seaside Park Police Department is the first of 10 scheduled stops that Mr. Christie plans to make Tuesday to mark the first anniversary of the mega-storm.
From here, he travels to a Baptist church in Newark for a memorial service and then he plans to close out the day later tonight by meeting with the patrons of an Italian restaurant that has been rebuilt in Sea Bright.
Mr. Christie is thought to be pondering a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 and saw his popularity skyrocket in the wake of the storm — a recovery effort that saw him embrace President Obama and ding House Republicans for not moving faster to pass a more than $50 billion relief package.
Mr. Christie also faces re-election next week against Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, and he plans to launch a bus tour Wednesday that will see him crisscross the state in the run-up to Election Day on Nov. 5.
Before speaking here Tuesday, Mr. Christie appeared in pre-taped interviews on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CBS “This Morning.” And he shot a live interview with NBC’s “The Today Show,” where he said he understands the growing frustration from people over how insurance woes and bureaucratic red tape have slowed down the recovery process.
Mr. Christie said part of the problem has been that it took Congress 92 days to pass a emergency relief package, compared to 10 days for Hurricane Katrina and seven days for Hurricane Gustav.
“Here is what it caused: No federal money started to flow here until the end of May,” Mr. Christie said. “So it has essentially now been just five months since the federal money started to come, and there is still enormous amounts of red tape that we call the ‘Katrina hangover’ because of some of the waste and abuse. There is a lot more federal regulation that folks are having to deal with. We are continuing to push back on that, but it is one of the realities of all the waste and abuse that happened in Katrina.”