Gov. Chris Christie returns to Belmar, site of first post-Sandy town hall
BELMAR - Gov. Chris Christie was back in Belmar for his 116th town hall Tuesday. The town was the site of the governor's first town hall after Sandy, and just like then, storm recovery was a hot topic.
Residents from parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties, worried about their place on the state's housing grant waiting list, came seeking answers about when the help will arrive.
"If you had told me in October of 2012 that in March of 2014, I'd still be spending 40 to 50 percent of my time every week on Sandy, I would not have believed it," Christie says.
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Many Sandy victims share that frustration, and services they say are taking up much-needed resources. "I don't need counseling if you get me back in my house," say Therese Diadone, of Brick. "How do I get a check in my mailbox?"
Christie says help is on the way. Approval for plans to spend $1.4 billion in recovery money should be approved in the next few weeks, hopefully getting as many as 3,000 people off the list. The third and final amount could get allocated by June.
"I can't promise you in the end that it will be, as it has not been up to this point, aggravation-free," Christie told the crowd.
As for the prevention of future storms, Gov. Christie said there are now less than 600 homeowners holding out on turning dune easements over to the state. "If I have to take them by legal action, I will take them by legal action," he says. "But I am not going to permit this not to happen."
If successful, the governor said the entire shore could be protected with dunes by 2016.