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Christie Says 'This is Our Katrina' as State Prepares to Rebuild from Hurricane Sandy

Governor surveys Seaside Park, vows to keep state's rebuilding needs on minds of nation

Speaking from a mangled boardwalk unlike the memories of his Jersey Shore childhood, Gov. Chris Christie said the Ocean County barrier island was still too unsafe for residents to return to, but vowed a return to normalcy for most of New Jersey on Monday.

"The power will be on, schools will be open, water is safe, gas is available," Christie said as he described what Monday in New Jersey will look like.

"We're ending the power restoration phase," he said. "On Monday, we begin the rebuilding phase."

He pledged all power would be restored Sunday, that the evacuation of Long Beach Island would be lifted Saturday, and gas rationing would end before the new week.

Monday, Christie would begin the discussion of how to rebuild that which is destroyed.

It would be the phase that would be the most frustrating, and take the most time, he said. "I can guarantee it," said the governor, speaking in front of the damaged Funtown Pier of Seaside Park, where nearby dunes had washed away from Hurricane Sandy. He was flanked by local and Ocean County elected officials and law enforcement, from communities such as Seaside Heights and Toms River.

The governor again pledged power would be restored "where it needs to" by Saturday night, saying "some stragglers" might be without power Sunday. He thanked power crews and rescue aid who came from as far away as Alabama, Illinois, Texas.

"If you would have told me, when I woke up Tuesday morning and saw what I saw, that we'd be able to accomplish this all by Monday, I'd have signed up right there," Christie said of the power restoration phase.

That phase is just about over, he said. He said an evacuation order would be lifted for Long Beach Island, but that the barrier island remains unsafe. He gave no date residents' for long-term return to barrier island.

Many barrer island communities today began allowing limited, hour-long access over the closed Route 37 bridge for full-time residents to grab essential supplies. Bellcrest Plaza on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River has been set up as a registration area for those seeking access.

Christie says mayors and local officials are welcome to have a conversation with him if they think areas should be open, but "I give the order and I won't if I don't know it's safe," he said of the barrier island, where thousands of residents of Bay Head, Mantoloking, Lavallette, Ortley Beach, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park and other communities remain displaced.

It's the barrier island that has seen "bad devastation," he said, specifically naming communities such as Mantoloking, Bay Head, Ortley Beach that have been "wiped out."

Christie was asked how these residents that had faced a natural disaster could not be allowed back by officials, thus creating a "man-made disaster."

"That's a bunch of crap," he said. "People need to take a deep breath."

He's grateful the loss of life has been minimal, because people's safety has been paramount, Christie said.

"I'm not going to let people on this island until it's safe" he said of the barrier island.

The governor said sinkholes are all over the barrier island that "have not been determined." He said engineers need to make their assessments first.

“This has been an unimaginable ordeal for many of our residents, but particularly for those on the barrier islands that remained under mandatory evacuation,” said Governor Christie. “As painful as it’s been, it was necessary to protect them from the dangers that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake, including gas leaks and other utility hazards, roads wiped out or heavily damaged and debris scattered across the landscape. We want them to return in an orderly, safe and secure way, so they can begin to take control of their lives and their property.”

Residents are growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of access to the barrier island. Toms River town hall and police headquarters have been flooded with callers looking for answers and demanding access.

"I understand they are frustrated, but they are going to be more frustrated if they come here and get hurt and killed," Christie said.

The governor paused and said, "This is our Katrina."

He said just like a national outpouring assisted Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, so should national focus not subside from a devastated New Jersey.

"I will not let them forget," Christie said of the federal government, insurance companies and relief organizations. The next phase will help get residents back on their feet, funneling funds to rebuild the infrastructure and making sure insurance companies honor claims.

The Army Corps of Engineers will help rebuild the Jersey Shore, but rebuilding should honor local zoning laws and community-specific wishes, Christie said.

Local and state officials may want to answer the question of whether rebuilding should happen in a place at all, particularly where new inlets have emerged or waterfront has washed away, Christie said, emphasizing such decisions should be answered mostly by local officials.

Many of the effected areas are tourism beacons for the state. Will Jersey Shore icons be ready for next summer?

"If you think summer next year will look like summer last year, it won't," Christie said.

Tourism is important to rebuild, but regarding the revenue, 'it's not going to be good," Christie said of restoring Seaside Heights amusements in time for revenue producing months.

Christie said he wants Ocean County Freeholders and mayors to come to the table and come to a consensus on how exactly to rebuild. "I want to hear what they think is appropriate for the communities," he said.

There are still plenty of short-term issues to address, he said. For one, the evacuation shelter at Monmouth Racetrack is not meant to shelter people for longer than 30 days.

Christie said inside the next 30 days the Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies may provide apartment and other stable housing for the more than 4,500 evacuees still in shelters statewide.

"They need to return to normalcy," he said.

Christie painted a hard road ahead, that will require the help of New Jerseyans as well as the national stage. He said it would likely be disheartening to see the national focus dim from Hurricane Sandy as the months go on, but that locally it would unwaveringly be a priority and that he'd be "New Jersey's number one advocate."

'We will succeed in this,' Christie said of a rebuilding process that could take years.

"This is a special place for me. This is the shore of my youth...where I grew up...and developed my memories," said Christie of the Seaside Heights and Seaside Park boardwalks. "Being here today is difficult for me, but it only steels my determination."

KC November 11, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Funny how I refused to live in Florida out of fear of the hurricanes. I still fear the water and want to move to the Vegas desert and the nice big pools. This ocean is too unpredicitable. With my luck, I will probably experience a drought. I do like the dry heat though. This damp cold is enough to try men's souls even without all of the disaster.
Michael Thwaite November 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM
"The power will be on, schools will be open, water is safe, gas is available," Christie said. Based on what information? We've already blown through three 'it'll be fixed by...' Dates. I have no confidence in this unhelpful political bluster. Christie is not the man for this job.
barbara November 11, 2012 at 01:03 PM
you do need flood ins if you by the water, but if your home is paid off, as is my in laws in sshts, it is not required. home insurance wont pay for flood or wind damage. stinks.
barbara November 11, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I hear you, KC, can't wait to retire and move to florida. we can't stand this cold, damp weather any more.
barbara November 11, 2012 at 01:08 PM
we were hit hard in toms river, live across from bay. flood insurance will just pay for the dwelling, did not have contents covered. house ins said they would not/could not pay for anything. ugh.......
Chuck Lada November 11, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Thank you, I don't think I remember being called a "smart cookie" before. After returning from my school bus tour , I can tell you with complete certainty that I could have driven myself safely to Seside Heights, In fact the police told us that anyone who left their car there was free to drive it out themselves (assuming that it would run). The only reason I could not drive is because our nanny sate governor thinks that it is more important for him to bully the residents of the island than to allow us our rights to property and liberty under the US Constitution. Happy Vetrans day to all who served AND GOD BLESS YOU!!! It is only because of the blood that you shed that we still have this document, although it seems to be loosing it's meaning more and more each day.
Chuck Lada November 11, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Happy Veterans Day and God Bless all who served. It is unfortunate that our Governor in the name of safety is ignoring the constitutional rights that you shed your blood to protect.
oldkodger November 11, 2012 at 03:22 PM
comeon Michael, he talks to the chosen one almost every day
Salvatore Ferruggia November 11, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I initially tried to make this comment along the lines of "joking," however, I am seriously concerned about Gov. Christie's health as it relates to his weight. Please Gov., try to lose some weight for your own health and to be able to continue working hard for the people of NJ.
Mac November 11, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I've heard GG called a lot of things, even coined a few myself, but the chosen one is a first.
Bill Oakley November 11, 2012 at 05:26 PM
They are worrying about helping people to rebuild their lives and homes, they started the clean up just as soon as the power companies got their work done and just in the short period of time since the clean up phase began, they have done a hell of a lot. i know you are shell shocked , i would be too if i lost everything, but try to remember that this was the worst disaster we have ever seen here and it cant be fixed overnight
Chuck Lada November 11, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Thank You Mayor Akers for fighting for our right to drive in. Starting Monday the Monday bus group can drive, I expect in a few days other residents and contractors will be added.
DAM November 11, 2012 at 10:54 PM
This is not about politics ... It is not about a "Nanny State" ... The US Constitution remains strong in that, under the 10th Amendment, the State of NJ has the final say on dealing with possibly the worst natural disaster in NJ history ... The Governor cannot, on principle, permit people to risk their lives, or those of persons who might have to come rescue them if they underestimate the hazards of a disaster zone ... By restricting immediate access, that of thieves and looters is also limited, helping to protect your property ... When will things be better? Probably not soon enough to suit most of us ... But if you want the management of JCPL drawn and quartered, what is your alternative: another private power company to start from scratch, or a government-run or financed power company ala TVA? ... The Governor is doing his best; FEMA is operating 100% more effectively than it did in New Orleans, where nearly 40% of its pre-Katrina population never returned ... Be patient, because you really don't have a Plan B to put into effect
Chuck Lada November 11, 2012 at 11:06 PM
DAM...Keep trusting the bureaucrats in New Jersey. You are a tool. Why have other states with more severe disaters not resorted to such drastic property access restrictions. I will give you a hint. They don't run a Nanny State. And theur leaders realize that emergency powers should be used only in the most drastic circumstances since they take away basic constitutional proctections.
barbara November 11, 2012 at 11:37 PM
can we go tomrrow? my inlaws schduled for tues and hbby has off tomorrow and can help them. this s confsing..........'
A. Einstein November 12, 2012 at 12:38 AM
The amazing thing is that FEMA will not pay anything if you have homeowner's insurance. My house (I only own this home) is no where near the bay, or on any map indicating a remote possibility that I would be flooded, so I didn't have any flood insurance. My bad, admittedly. Of course my homeowner's insurance isn't going to cover any of the damage from the flood. So what does FEMA actually do other than send you to the SBA? I'm sure there are others that have it worse than me. Does anyone know if they provided direct assistance to a single homeowner?
barbara November 12, 2012 at 12:49 AM
i am a homeoweer in toms river, my son rents my home. fema wont give me a dime cause not my "primary residence" sucks. my homeowners wont give me nothing either. got application from fema today to apply for a loan. wtf? nope, we cAnt get anything from fema except to apply for SBA. sucks. mr t.r. home is gone, destroyed. ugh.
Tracey Failla November 12, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Wow, I can't believe you people. You don't like the fact that you were told to leave your residence, but you would be the first one to bitch that you weren't told to leave your home, you don't like the fact that your insurance won't pay for the flood ( duh, did you check your insurance before the hurricane?) I can't get into my house till such a day so I have a sitter, I am special I need to see my house now. Did you people ever think that this might happen? I lived here all my life, yup Jersey girl born and breed ( take that bennys ) never would I live on the water, you have to be stupid, ummm hurricanes nor'easterners. Such it up sissy Mary's you got what you wanted a house on the Jersey shore, now how do you like the dream. Dumb asses.
barbara November 12, 2012 at 01:15 AM
shut up tracey........my in laws are very old schooled people, they had to wait it out till the last minute to leave, we could not get to them. they know their ins wont pay. their home on the water they worked very hard for. they not stupid, they proud. now they homeless. you a friggin idiot.
Veronica Adamkiewicz November 12, 2012 at 01:21 AM
@ Tracy . . . How can you be so hostile and cruel at a time like this? Its people like you who give true Jersey girls a bad name. We're not all bitches . . . .
barbara November 12, 2012 at 01:25 AM
so agree with you jerseyshore girl, unbelievable i am housing 3 homeless families here from seaside hts. it is hard on us, but we are FAMILY and family gotta help each other. she is very cruel.........i am not a bitch at all, but her comment got me going. lol
Bill Oakley November 12, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Unfortunatly Dam, these poor people are in to much a srtate of shock, having lost everything and don't realize that Christie, all yhe utility workers, power companies law enforcement, fema , clean up crews and volinteers are doing there very best.
matthew November 12, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Here is mayors Kelaher's email adress TKelaher@tomsrivertownship.com. Start pounding him with emails why and when is Ortley Beach getting in. With the warm days the mold is spreading faster and we need to do something before we all lose our homes. And where is his support, I haven't seen or heard from him once since Sandy hit us. I have a feeling he doesn't care about Ortley Beach, just cares about our tax dollars. Something has to happen now, it will be 2 weeks and still no word on Ortley Beach. FREE ORTLEY BEACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Henry November 12, 2012 at 03:11 AM
I have to agree with some of the points Tracey Failla made. Do I think she could have said it nicer in the points she was making. Absolutely, Some of it is accurate and true. When you live on or very close to the water there is a huge risk. There is a saying, you really don't own your home if you are on the ocean or that close to water. Mother Nature really owns your house. It is great owning Oceanfront or close to a beach, but as most know it is a huge risk. The problem is NJ was never hit with a storm of this size or the damage it caused. They said not in over 100 years, basically never...Even the worst of storms in 1944, 1962 caused this much havoc.. First off we have a lot more people and houses, most likely they were summer homes, no heating, very little gas etc....The shore has built up and I really don't agree when they allowed to build on the barrier island or as close as house are. The barrier island was attended for that just that...A barrier. Homeowners need to evaluate their situation before rebuilding. They need to build up and not as close as they allowed. Most Homeowners insurance does not cover for Flood, that is an entirely separate insurance. I think most are aware of this. It is very expensive and I am surprised that most chose to take the chance of not getting it or can't afford it. Those who can't afford it, really has no businesses owning a home by the water in my opinion. I realize some bought long ago and times has changed but then sell it.
Henry November 12, 2012 at 03:42 AM
How Waterfront Owners are going to be able or afford to rebuild without flood insurance is beyond me. Even with a small interest loan that they limit and what some already own is going to be way to expensive for most especially if someone bought long ago when real estate was not as high. All the homeowners, boardwalk businesses, State and Federal government should not expect others to pay for their responsibilities of Where and what they chose to buy. How many times can we pay. I had a bad feeling about this storm and no one was taking it seriously. Don't think this is going to be the last big storm and it will be stronger. I do feel bad that so many either loss their homes, personal belongings. I just fee some of the people that constantly complain about paying for others now expect a handout themselves.. People never want to pay out for anything until they need it. Especially all those who own. You can't have it both way and they will not let you
stuffin November 12, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Truth is stranger than fiction. Those who have now want the handout. Any rebuilding needs to be done with the foresight that this can happen again. We shouldn't pretend The Barrier Island/Peninsula can be controlled by man and the damn what nature has to say.
Henry November 12, 2012 at 03:56 AM
God Bless and Good Luck!
Mike January 17, 2013 at 02:14 AM
jerseytomato, Your absolutly correct, Mary E. Rowlands isn't the sharpest knief in the drawer. When we step back & look at our situation, we can see that Chris Christie, like him or not, at least is there, in the trenches doing what a Governor is supposed to do. He is not a bit like Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, who fled to Houston before making any of his impassioned speeches to the dumbells in New Orleans. The aid to NJ is late by about six weeks, as compared to New Orleans. And yet we yelled at George Bush because...well...we don't know why...the media was, so why shouldn't we. Dopes! The Jersey Shore will never be the same...ever.
oldkodger January 17, 2013 at 04:45 PM
idiot liberals would blame Bush for Sandy because the chosen one got re-elected. Welcome to the old Soviet Union
Thomas I Mooney January 17, 2013 at 05:24 PM
I think that one of the first "Jersey Girsl" was Molly Pitcher. Guess what? When I look around, I see that that type of woman is still very much with us. Thank God. They don't make much noise. They get the tough stuff done.

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