MANAHAWKIN - Gov. Chris Christie and other state officials announced this morning that more than $800 million in Sandy recovery funds have been disbursed to people in New Jersey.
"As of today, we've reached kind of a milestone," Christie says. "$817 million or more than two thirds of the federal Sandy housing recovery money we've gotten so far are either out the door in the hands of homeowners or in the pipeline for helping rebuilding homes for reimbursement."
The governor was joined by New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable III. The pair spoke to a crowd of Sandy survivors and national media at the Stafford Township Volunteer Fire Company.
"While eclipsing $800 million is a significant accomplishment, the governor and I know there's still a long way to go," said Constable, whose department administers the federal CDBG Disaster Recovery funding for the state. "Many families are still not back in their homes. Therefore, we will continue to tirelessly work to get even more housing recovery funds out the door so that we can reach more families who are still struggling in the aftermath of Sandy."
Of the funds disbursed, more than 70 percent of the money went to low- and moderate-income families, according to the Christie administration.
The governor met with some Sandy victims about their progress. Amy Peters, of Stafford, was thrilled with the grant money she received. "I could not be where I am today without the help we've received to get home," she said.
But many Sandy survivors still out of their homes say nobody should be patting themselves on the back just yet, as the grant process has been painfully slow.
Joe Karcz still waits for help. "I just don't understand the slowdown," he says. "We're caught up in a bureaucracy. You're spinning your wheels."
Kristen Mondelli lives near him in the Beach Haven West section of Stafford Township and says her home along the lagoon was just knocked down on her own dime. She says for every person helped, there's someone out there like her that didn't qualify for federal aid.
But Christie says progress has been made. "Getting Sandy-impacted families back into their homes and communities has been a top priority of mine since the storm hit," he says. "Today's milestone is a testament to the dedication of this administration to help our neighbors recover from the storm. We know that there is much more work to be done and we will continue to work hard to advance our recovery programs and get New Jerseyans back in their homes."
Today's meeting was hastily canceled one week ago because of a scandal over traffic jams in Fort Lee that appear to have been manufactured by Christie's aides. Christie scuttled the Sandy event last week to hold a news conference in which he denied involvement in the lane closing scheme.
For extended video of the news conference on Sandy aid, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.