New Jersey congressmen request meeting with Obama on storm relief
New Jersey’s congressional delegation is calling on President Barack Obama to meet with them to discuss Gov. Chris Christie’s request for $37 billion to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.
The letter was sent on Thursday. The state’s members of Congress stated that swift request and appropriation of funding is critical to the state’s recovery.
To ensure New Jersey receives all the funds needed to properly rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. Reps. Jon Runyan, R-3rd, and Bill Pascrell, D-9th, led the entire delegation in sending a letter to Obama, a Democrat, requesting a meeting to discuss the Republican governor’s request and other recovery activities.
Christie’s request includes $7.4 billion to improve protection and guard against future storms.
The amount requested surpasses the state’s annual budget.
More than 30,000 homes and businesses were destroyed or structurally damaged during Sandy.
Christie has called on New Jersey’s congressional delegation to fight for the aid.
Runyan said it is important that Obama sit down with the entire delegation, so they can tell him how the components of the governor’s request are important to help New Jersey rebuild.
“I appreciate all that the President has done and I will continue to fight to ensure that New Jersey receives all the funds that it needs to recover and rebuild,” Runyan said in a statement.
The congressional delegation has not yet heard back from Obama’s office about the request for a meeting, Runyan spokesman Andrew Fasoli said Friday.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Friday that the administration has been accessible and responsive to New Jersey’s needs from the moment the storm hit. “We hope to hear back from the president next week,” he said Friday.
Also Thursday, Runyan testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, “Sandy and Its Impacts: A Local Perspective.”
During his testimony, Runyan spoke of his visits to areas hit hardest by the Oct. 29 storm and said that although images of the storm have been in the news, many people have not seen the personal impact it has had on residents.
Runyan testified that after the storm he toured shore communities in his district, including Long Beach Township, Toms River’s Ortley Beach and Normandy Beach, which straddles both Toms River and Brick Township. He observed all-encompassing devastation in some of these towns, he said.
“You likely have also seen the marinas on Long Beach Island, where dozens of sporting boats were stacked like toys on top of one another,” he said during his testimony.
Runyan offered four recommendations during his testimony for Congress to act on to help New Jersey rebuild. Runyan wants Congress to:
f-9n Pass a supplemental disaster assistance bill before the end of the year to ensure FEMA’s solvency and noninterruption in aid.
f-9n Make a significant portion of any disaster relief in the form of community development block grants to affected states.
f-9n Include funding to help New Jersey’s fishing industry recover from the fisheries-resource disaster declared by the Secretary of Commerce.
f-9n Make sure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has enough money to complete beach replenishment and flood-control projects across the state. The corps estimates that for every $1 spent on these projects, $7 is saved in post-storm recovery costs, Runyan said. However, funding these projects has not historically been a priority, and that needs to change, he said.
Runyan said that during his tours of the shore, he saw that towns where beach replenishment projects were completed fared much better than others.
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