- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie asked for federal disaster aid Thursday to help New Jersey pay for last month’s winter storm that he was criticized for downplaying during his presidential run.

The Republican governor said in a letter to President Barack Obama that the state incurred at least $82 million in costs from 30 inches of snow that fell in some areas, power outages and coastal flooding.

The request followed his decision Wednesday to end his bid for his party’s nomination; Christie performed poorly in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

In the wake of the late January storm, Christie resumed his campaign in New Hampshire and was criticized for his response and saying, “I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do. You want me to go down to Cape May with a mop?”

In the letter to Obama, the governor asked for disaster declarations for 17 of the state’s 21 counties. The storm broke snow records in six counties, stretching local budgets to pay for the cleanup. Nearly 300,000 customers lost power.

Christie said that because of beach erosion, destroyed dunes and weakened barriers, some of New Jersey’s coastal areas are at risk of further flooding if another storm blows through.

He said last month’s storm was of “such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected county and local governments.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will evaluate Christie’s request and make a recommendation to the president. In New Jersey, at least $12 million in damages must accumulate before the state can qualify for federal assistance, well below Christie’s estimate.

Sea Isle City, a coastal resort town, was one of the hardest hit, incurring nearly $25 million in damage, according to a preliminary estimate. City spokeswoman Katherine Custer said beach damage makes up half that figure, followed by the havoc the flooding wreaked on homes and businesses.

“If federal funding is available, we’re definitely interested,” Custer said.

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