SIMI VALLEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivers remarks during the Perspectives on Leadership Forum at the Reagan Library on September 27, 2011 in Simi Valley, California. Influential Republicans are urging Christie to run for president and are prepared to raise money. Christie is on a Republican Party fund-raising tour with stops in Missouri and California including a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Hide Caption

Christie: Obama 'kept every promise' on storm aid

a a a a
Share this story

HIGHLANDS, N.J. - Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that President Barack Obama "has kept every promise he's made" about helping the state recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Hours later, Obama's housing secretary approved New Jersey's plans to spend $1.83 billion in federal money to help the state rebuild and recover from the storm.

Speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program six months after the deadly storm, the Republican governor said presidential politics were the last thing on his mind as he toured storm-devastated areas with Obama last fall.

When it comes to helping New Jersey rebuild from the storm, "the president has kept every promise he's made," said Christie, widely considered a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. "I think he's done a good job. He kept his word."

His comments came in response to a question about whether he had any regrets about his warm embrace of Obama after the storm, which angered some Republicans, who said it helped tip a close presidential election. Christie had endorsed and campaigned for Republican Mitt Romney.

The governor said he and Obama have fundamentally different views on governing. But he said the two men did what needed to be done for a devastated region.

"I've got a job to do," he said. "You wake up and 7 million of your 8.8 million citizens are out of power, you're not thinking about presidential politics."

Christie challenged his critics to put themselves in his shoes while dealing with the massive storm, predicting none of them would have done anything differently.

"I have a 95 percent level of disagreement with Barack Obama," Christie said. But that did not come into play while dealing with the storm.

"We saw suffering together," Christie said. "Everything the president promised me they'd do, they've done. I don't have any complaint this morning on the issue of disaster relief."

Sandy destroyed about 360,000 homes or apartment units in New Jersey, and some areas along the shore are still devastated.

Later Monday, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan appeared with Christie at a press conference and announced federal approval of New Jersey's plans to spend more than $1.8 billion in federal grants on storm rebuilding and recovery.

"Today is the beginning of us getting to phase two of return to normalcy," Christie said. "For the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans, their life is back to normal. For those who have not been able to leave it behind, I can still see the emotion on their faces, the sense of loss they still carry close to the surface. We are not here today to take a victory lap."

Congress approved more than $60 billion in Sandy relief funds, most of it for New Jersey and New York, despite opposition from many Congressional Republicans who voiced concerns over how some of it would be spent.

At a press conference at a popular seafood restaurant, where reporters and cameramen were pressed up against diners, Christie said it has been easy to work with Donovan on Sandy recovery.

"There's an old joke, right? Someone from the government comes into town and they say, `I'm from Washington and I'm here to help' and everybody starts to laugh," Christie said. "Shaun Donovan is ruining that joke for me."

Donovan returned the compliment, praising the Republican governor "for his remarkable and relentless leadership in helping this town, this shore and this state recover from one of the toughest blows it has ever endured."

This is the first round of disaster relief money to be allocated. Two more rounds of block grants are expected later.

The grants will be focused in the nine counties with the worst damage from the storm. The first round of grants will help an estimated 26,000 homeowners with their primary residences, 5,000 renters and 10,000 small businesses, in addition to local governments.

The programs the Republican governor wants to implement - offering grants to rebuild damaged homes, no-interest loans for small businesses and giving landlords cash incentives to repair homes and rent them - are standard for states receiving federal assistance after natural disasters. Some areas where the state says there are problems, such as repairing infrastructure and restoring the fishing industry, are not included in the plan. An expanded home buyback program for people living in flood-prone neighborhoods will be included in a later funding application.

The plan submitted to HUD includes $825 million for elevation and reconstruction of damaged primary residences; $255 million for displaced renters whose primary residences were damaged by the storm; and $300 million in small business grants. A $25 million allocation to promote storm-impacted shore communities is also included, as is $50 million to help municipalities continue to provide essential services without increasing taxes. Developers of public housing could see $104.5 million in zero- and low-interest loans of up to $120,000 per unit to create new permanent housing.

Copyright Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Sandy Stories
Could Obama cancel Wed. Tri-State visit?
Could Obama cancel Wed. Tri-State visit?

A strengthening Hurricane Sandy disrupted the White House campaign Monday, with President Obama canceling two campaign days to monitor the…

Post Sandy, NYCers still in hotels
Post Sandy, NYCers still in hotels

More than 2,000 people displaced by Superstorm Sandy are still living in New York City hotels five months after the storm.

Congress passes $50.5B Sandy aid bill
Congress passes $50.5B Sandy aid bill

Three months after Superstorm Sandy ravaged coastal areas in much of the Northeast, Congress on Monday sent a $50.5 billion emergency relief…

House approves $50.7B in Sandy aid
House approves $50.7B in Sandy aid

More than 10 weeks after Superstorm Sandy brutalized parts of the heavily populated Northeast, the House approved $50.7 billion in emergency…

Critics: Sandy aid tied to other things
Critics: Sandy aid tied to other things

Conservatives and watchdog groups are mounting a "not-so-fast" campaign against a $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package. They say lots…

Washington reacts to Sandy aid package
Washington reacts to Sandy aid package

Conservatives and watchdog groups are mounting a "not-so-fast" campaign against a $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package that…

Firm hit hard on 9/11 gives $10M in aid
Firm hit hard on 9/11 gives $10M in aid

NYC firm hit hard by 911 adopts schools hit by Superstorm Sandy.

Time to rebuild, but where's the money?
Time to rebuild, but where's the money?

Homeowners across Long Island are struggling with the cost of rebuilding from super storm Sandy as they wait for banks and mortgage companies…

Obama signs bill for Sandy flood claims
Obama signs bill for Sandy flood claims

President Barack Obama has signed into law a $9.7 billion bill to pay flood insurance claims from Superstorm Sandy.

House approves $9.7B Sandy flood aid
House approves $9.7B Sandy flood aid

The House has overwhelmingly approved $9.7 billion to pay Superstorm Sandy flood insurance claims.Superstorm Sandy.