By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
“The hundredth town hall, number 100,” Gov. Chris Christie said, seeming to bask in the milestone he hit today.
The town hall has become part of his brand. So much so that an overflow crowd today had to watch on TV in a separate room.
His message in Manahawkin was all about rebuilding after Sandy. He thanked the House of Representatives for passing the relief package yesterday and singled out the New Jersey delegation.
“To see Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell working with Rod Frehlinghuysen and Jon Runyan, let me tell you, that don’t happen every day everybody. It doesn’t happen every day and they all worked together, Frank LoBiondo and Rush Holt and all the members of our delegation,” Christie said.
He predicted success in the Senate but cautioned those in the audience directly affected by Sandy not to count on seeing their money right away.
“Don’t expect now, for those who have been affected by this, that the next day I’m going to be on your doorstep with a check,” Christie said.
Manahawkin in Stafford Township is the entrance to Long Beach Island. Its Stafford Township neighbor Beach Have West got hit hard. Homes along the canals almost all suffered serious flood damage.
“Lost the whole first floor of my home and we’ve been working diligently for over two months now to bring it back,” said Beach Haven West resident Janet Sands.
“The majority of the people lost their entire first floors so it’s been quite a ride. But I will say that the governor did a fantastic job. I can’t say enough. It looked like a war zone when the storm hit,” said Beach Haven West resident Stacy Janzer
Eagleswood Contractor Jay Thompson’s business is to lift houses and raise them up on pilings. “I’m doing a lot of estimates and we’re getting an awful lot of calls — 50 to 75 a day most days,” he said.
Christie said when the federal money does come, it will go to agencies like the state Department of Transportation and Army Corps of Engineers and to block grants that will eventually find their way to homeowners and small businesses to supplement what they get from insurance or from FEMA. He said rebuilding will have to be done to new standards.
Christie warned the shore-area audience that beach towns in the summer of 2013 won’t look exactly like they did in 2012 but that the goal for this year is just to make them comfortable and livable again.