Christie Strongly Defends His Sandy Aid Efforts [AUDIO]
Almost a year and a half after Superstorm Sandy slammed the Garden state, Gov. Chris Christie says he is pressing ahead with rebuilding and restoration as top priorities, even as critics question the pace of aid.
Addressing the issue on the Townsquare Radio Network’s “Ask the Governor” program Wednesday night, Christie said he’s submitted a plan for spending the next $1.46 billion in federal Sandy relief money, and he hopes approval to move forward in the next 30 to 60 days.
Asked whether he’s confident his administration can avoid the problems that have arisen over the past several months in getting aide to those who need it most, Christie said, “We won’t face the same problems. I can’t assure you we won’t face other ones, but we won’t face the same ones, because we’ve identified those and taken steps to repair them.”
But the governor also cited two examples of well-publicized complaints that turned out to have very different stories behind them. In one case, a man who appealed for help with an aid request is under investigation for fraud in the matter, Christie said. In the other, a woman who claimed she has received no aid has actually received $50,0000 for one claim and has another claim pending.
Listen to Christie cite one of Sandy’s fraud cases
“There are always going to be complaints,” the governor said, “especially at this time, because if you’re still on a waiting list, or haven’t been helped at this point, people’s patience is running thin, so we’re going to continue to work with those people, reach out to try to help them, that’s why we’ve been doing the town hall meetings.”
The governor said part of the new round relief funding will also go to help low income and minority residents who, in some cases, have claimed they haven’t been able to tap the first round of funding. “We’re not completely sure that’s accurate,” said Christie, “but the fact of the matter is if the perception is out there, then there’s no harm in us going out there and doing another round of aggressive outreach.”
Christie has proposed $40 million in Sandy recovery funds for those low income residents who haven’t previously applied for grant money to repair their homes.
Outside a town hall meeting in Belmar earlier this week, a small business group criticized the funding of relief efforts that have been made by the Christie administration since the storm struck.
Members of the Main Street Alliance said assistance efforts have been slower than acknowledged. A spokeswoman said $167 million in requests have been made for business grants, but so far only $15.2 million have been awarded to 314 businesses.
The governor has acknowledged that efforts to get funding to businesses and individuals has not gone perfectly, but he insists the assistance has been quicker and better organized that other national disasters in recent history.
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