Gov. Chris Christie has asked the federal government for nearly $37 billion in aid to help New Jersey recover and rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.
Christie announced the revised total Wednesday to include $7.4 billion to cover mitigation, protection and prevention of future disasters. A preliminary total of $29.4 billion announced last week covers repairs and response. The total amount he asked for is greater than his state's entire yearly budget.
"My commitment to the people of New Jersey is to make steady progress in our recovery, and to know that three or six or 12 months from now I'll demand the same level of effort, attention and results from government as I have in the past 30 days," Christie said at a Statehouse news conference.
The Republican governor announced Monday that he would seek re-election next year. He said he was motivated, in part, by a desire to continue to lead the state through the rebuilding phase after the hurricane.
Christie named a former U.S. attorney's office colleague, Marc Ferzan, to spearhead the state's recovery and rebuilding efforts. Ferzan, who is leaving the private sector to rejoin government, will be paid a Cabinet-level salary of $141,000. The administration also hired Witt Associates, the disaster management company founded by former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt.
Christie said more than 30,000 homes and businesses were destroyed or sustained structural damage during Sandy and that 42,000 buildings sustained lesser damage from the Oct. 30 storm. He said FEMA has distributed more than $500 million in aid so far; 230,000 New Jerseyans have registered for federal assistance.
Earlier this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked for $42 billion in federal aid — $32 billion for repairs and restoration and more than $9 billion to head off future disasters, including steps to protect the power grid and cellphone network.
Christie said it's now up to New Jersey's congressional delegation — made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats — to fight for the aid.
Christie has said he expects the federal government to compensate New Jersey and New York the same as it provided aid to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas after Hurricane Katrina.
Christie also said he and Cuomo have agreed not to compete with one another for federal funds.
"We're not going to allow any political forces in Washington, D.C., to divide and conquer us," Christie said. "We going to go down there as a team, we're going to work together and advocate for the numbers we put forward. These are realistic numbers that we need."