By Michael Muskal
6:44 PM EST, November 20, 2012
New Jersey officials met Tuesday in Trenton to discuss how to persuade the federal government to fund what it will take to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Gov. Chris Christie met for 90 minutes with the state’s congressional delegation, the governor’s office announced.
“Regardless of party, regardless of previous battles that we've had with each other, everybody around this table stood up and called and asked, 'what do we need, how can they help,'“ Christie said in remarks distributed by the governor’s office after the meeting. “I think New Jersey set an example for the rest of the country on how to work across party lines together in times of real challenge to our people.”
“We have a commitment to the people of this state that we are going to work together to make sure that the citizens of New Jersey are treated fairly and equitably in this process and that we are treated in the same manner that the victims were treated in like situations, like [Hurricane] Katrina,” Christie said.
Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey at the end of last month, swirled through the state, causing at least 34 deaths in New Jersey and at its peak, leaving 2.76 million people without electricity. Nationally, the storm caused more than 100 deaths and left more than 8 million people without power and caused losses already estimated at more than $50 billion.
New Jersey is still computing the toll of storm damages, but it is expected to reach into the billions of dollars; some estimates of the insured losses are already at $20 billion. New York officials have indicated they will seek more than $30 billion in federal aid.
On his visit to the storm-struck areas, President Obama indicated that the federal government was planning to stand by the region as it rebuilds. Emergency aid to house those whose homes were destroyed has been flowing into the area.
As part of the emergency funds, the governor’s office said New Jersey will seek to have the federal government pick up 90% of cleanup and recovery costs instead of the usual 75%. That upgrade has taken place before during major disasters, such as Katrina. New Jersey could also seek trailers to house people during the repair phase. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has staged trailers in the area, but they have not been distributed pending an official request.
Then there is also the question of long-term aid.
For New York, that will include billions of dollars to repair infrastructure, such as the subway tunnels and roads that were flooded by the record surge caused by Sandy.
In New Jersey, those long-term costs are also certain to include billions of dollars to repair the hard-hit South Jersey beach areas that are home to the state’s tourism industry. Both states are weighing requests as well for money to prevent future destruction from flooding.
The additional federal costs come at a difficult time as a lame-duck Congress negotiates with Obama over a series of tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”
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