N.J. towns hardest hit by Sandy could share in $42 million

Gov. Chris Christie says towns that were hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy can seek reimbursement of the 10 percent of debris removal and emergency protection costs that FEMA did not cover. (AP file photo)

Gov. Chris Christie says towns that were hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy can seek reimbursement of the 10 percent of debris removal and emergency protection costs that FEMA did not cover. (AP file photo)

New Jersey towns in nine counties hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy could be getting more money from the state.

Gov. Chris Christie said Friday they can seek reimbursement of the 10 percent of debris removal and emergency protection costs that FEMA did not cover.

“For a number of communities, that 10 percent match started to creep close to and even exceed a million dollars because of sheer magnitude of their storm recovery projects,” he said. “Rather than have property taxes increase in these hard-hit communities, the state stepped up to cover these costs.”

About 400 local government entities may be eligible for a share of the $42 million in Community Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds, he said.

Shore towns devastated by Sandy have done an extraordinary job of rebuilding in just under four years, the governor added.

“The RREM program is now two-thirds to completion. That’s an ordinary achievement,” he said. “And for the overwhelming majority of people who are not yet back in their homes, those folks are being rebuilt or have made the decision not to rebuild.”

The state is also looking ahead, Christie said, noting that the Army Corps of Engineers will start on the last scheduled protective dune project.

“Then we will have, when it’s completed, a complete dune system running from the Bayshore to Cape May, so that if we ever do get another devastating storm like Sandy, we’ll be much better prepared,” he said.

The state still needs 125 easements to build dunes in Point Pleasant Beach, Bay Head, Mantoloking, and Berkeley Township. After litigation, Christie anticipates obtaining them by early next year.

During the Friday news conference, the governor was also asked about the upcoming trial of a former aide and a former top appointee stemming from the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case.

If he should be subpoenaed, Christie said, he will comply.

“If I’m served with a proper and appropriate subpoena, I will comply with the subpoena,” he said. “Just the way I’ve cooperated from minute one, voluntarily, in every aspect of the three different investigations that people have had into this that, to this point, still and never will show that I had any involvement in this because I didn’t.”

Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni are charged with conspiring to create traffic jams near the bridge to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie in 2013. Their trial begins next month. 

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