By Lauren Wanko
The FEMA employees that have been working on the relief efforts in the Garden State lined up to meet the governor this morning.
“In two weeks’ time with the help of all the people across the state, we’ve returned to a sense of normalcy in the state,” Gov. Chris Christie said. “That’s why I have the fleece off. We’re normal, I gotta take the fleece off. The fleece only comes on during abnormal times.”
The odd-even gas distribution system will end at 6 a.m. tomorrow. And Christie says as of tomorrow morning, 98 percent of New Jersey’s schools will be open and operating.
The governor says those factors are part of what give the majority of New Jerseyans a sense of normalcy.
“With the exception of about 30,000 citizens on the barrier islands who are going to be a much longer term proposition in terms of restoring power, gas, water because of the destroyed infrastructure in those towns,” Christie said. “I will be meeting this week with the utilities and with the mayors of those affected towns to make sure they understand what plan the utilities have in their minds and that the mayors in those individual towns and representatives of the county government can have input into those plans as we move forward.”
Christie acknowledges the rebuilding process will be complicated and it could take months or even years.
“It’s incalculable the amount of damages that have been done to the spirit of this state but we’ll calculate the damage that has been done to our infrastructure and to the property and I think what you’re going to fine is that when you combine New York and New Jersey alone, it will probably be the second worst hurricane in the country’s history just behind Katrina and we expect to be treated in exactly the same way that the victims of Katrina were treated,” Christie said.
Eight hundred seventy-seven people were in shelters last night compared to 1,600 during the weekend.
“The question is — and the unknown part of this is — how many people are staying with friends and relatives that we don’t know about who won’t be able to do that for the long haul and those are the people that we’re going to have to accommodate going forward into more permanent temporary housing,” Christie said.
Fort Monmouth will open as soon as the end of the week for people displaced by the storm and in need of temporary, long-term housing. The Department of Community Affairs commissioner estimates Fort Monmouth could house between 400 and 600 families.