Gov. Chris Christie will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday in Stafford Township, and area officials hope he will discuss Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and have answers for residents trying to put their lives back together.
On Wednesday, Stafford Mayor John Spodofora said Sandy’s impact is going to be felt for years.
“I was up in Trenton yesterday and listened to the State of the State (address), and he’s pretty angry at the folks in D.C. I expect him to come down here and express that anger as we are trying get back on track,” Spodofora said of Christie.
The majority of township residents are concerned about how they are going to rebuild their homes and where the money will come from, Spodofora said. About 4,600 homes were seriously damaged in the Beach Haven West section of the township alone.
“I think he will be fielding a lot of questions from people,” he said. “The lack of consistency with answers is brutal, and people don’t know what to do.
The township is just about finished removing debris from the storm, and as crews continue minimal cleanup through the end of this month, the cost has exceeded $20 million, he said.
Tuckerton Mayor George “Buck” Evans plans to attend Wednesday’s meeting after hearing the governor speak in his State of the State address Tuesday about environmental issues associated with the storm and its aftermath.
“There are needs that we have following the storm that the state can help us with, and some of that is cleaning up our lagoons and expediting payment from FEMA. These are serious concerns,” Evans said.
FEMA estimated the small borough of less than 4 square miles, which operates on a $3.9 million budget, suffered $3.6 million in damage. Officials there are bracing to lose about $2 million in tax revenue following the storm’s destruction of hundreds of homes in the Tuckerton Beach section.
“I’m glad the governor is coming down to Ocean County. We’ll see how he addresses things, because there are a lot of concerns about the aftermath of Sandy,” Evans said.
Little Egg Harbor Township Mayor John Kehm said residents likely will make the 20-minute drive north to attend the town hall meeting and ask the governor for help.
“I believe the governor has done an excellent job from the storm right up to the aftermath, and trying to get the money to help everyone. He knows what has to be done just like we know what has to be done down here in Little Egg,” Kehm said.
LEHT officials have grimaced over the last 70 days or so when they speak of the 5,000 homes that were destroyed during the storm and the hundreds of people who remain displaced.
“People are going to be asking him where they’re going to get the money to raise their houses and do the work they need to do. I think some of the businesses from done here are also going to be asking those same questions,” Kehm said.
Debris cleanup was completed Dec. 31, and the township spent about $8 million, he said. Now, like in Stafford Township, Kehm said, the governing body is turning its attention to the lagoons that are littered with debris and calling on the governor, state and FEMA for help.
The event will be held at Saint Mary of the Pines Parish Center Gymnasium, 100 Bishop Way, Stafford Township.
The event starts at 3 p.m., and doors open at 2:15 p.m.
Seating is on a first come, first serve basis and open to the public.
RSVP by clicking here.
Space is limited and an invitation encouraged the public to RSVP in order to accommodate the demand for seating.