Sandy Recovery Remains in Focus [VIDEO/AUDIO]
Nineteen months after Superstorm Sandy slammed the Jersey Shore, Gov. Chris Christie remains focused on restoration and recovery.
During a Sandy Town Hall meeting in Stafford Township Wednesday, the governor told an overflow crowd that good progress is being made at the Jersey Shore, and local residents are telling him "things are much better this summer than they were last summer, people feel better about where we are, that businesses are back up and running to a much greater extent than last summer -- and that individuals, a lot more of them are back in their homes."
He said however, that doesn't mean those who are still struggling have been forgotten.
"Every person who is still not back in their home, every person who is still experiencing displacement are people that I think about every day," he said. "I still spend about 40 to 50 percent every week as governor on Sandy."
The governor said while restoration efforts are going well, the shore will never be the way it once was.
"There is not getting back to normal, there's getting to a new normal because what we understood as normal before Oct. 29th, 2012 will never be that way again," Christie said. "Things have changed much too much, and we need to change in order to adjust to the things that happened to us that day, both personally, in your own lives and the way you've been affected, but also as a state."
Christie told the crowd a sizable portion of federal Sandy recovery money is being used to try and make the Garden State more resilient "for the next time a storm comes, and I hope we don't have anything again anytime soon that's anywhere near as severe, but we can't count on that."
To that end, the governor said energy programs are being developed so that if another superstorm belts New Jersey, residents won't lose power as long as they did during Sandy, and critical infrastructure sites like hospitals and nursing homes will be better protected.
"We're working on a program now that's giving grants to gas station owners to make them generator-capable, because a lot of these folks had generators, but they didn't have the capability to plug those generators in to run the pumps, so you couldn't get gas out during Sandy," Christie said.
He also said the Army Corps of Engineers continues to work on a massive sand dune replacement project that should run up and down the entire coastline by the summer of 2016.
As these projects move forward, the governor said he's doing everything he can to promote the shore to visitors.
"We cannot wait until every problem is solved to celebrate the successes that we've had in solving problems, because we have a $40 billion tourism industry that does a lot to support this state and its people," Christie said.