Army post in NJ to house storm victims
LINCROFT, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey officials were readying a shuttered military base to temporarily house residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy as Gov. Chris Christie announced that gas rationing will end Tuesday morning.
Christie said he was confident the odd-even fuel rationing put in place in 12 northern counties to ease long lines and short tempers at the pumps could end satisfactorily at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
One of the state's biggest challenges, he said, has been restoring rail service because of all the flooding at rail stations and on tracks, and he seemed frustrated by those who are complain of two- to three-hour commutes into New York City.
"Sorry, we had a disaster," he said during a briefing Monday at a federal emergency management site in Monmouth County. "Take the ferry. It won't take you two or three hours. If you insist on doing things the way you've always done them and say, 'I don't care about the disaster,' well, then, you're going to wait."
The governor said Fort Monmouth will be taken out of mothballs and could house 400 to 600 families. Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable said families could begin moving in by month's end.
As New Jersey officials zeroed in on a damage estimate, Christie said losses sustained in the state and in New York likely would make the Oct. 29 storm the country's second most-expensive disaster, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"We expect to be treated exactly the same way that the victims of Katrina were treated. They were treated very generously by the American people," Christie said.
Anxious to move the state from recovery to rebuilding, the governor said less than 1,000 customers remained without power 13 days after the superstorm knocked 2.7 million customers off line. He said the state has contracted with the household debris-removal company that performed cleanup work in Mississippi after Katrina. He said less than 100 schools were too damaged to reopen and arrangements were being made to move trailers onto those sites or have students double up in other schools.
He said consultations with the Army Corps of Engineers were under way on rebuilding the coast, but he cautioned that the process would be expensive, complicated and time-consuming.
"We can't re-create overnight communities that took decades to build," he said.
Christie said the state was working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide temporary housing to those whose homes or apartments were damaged or destroyed.
More than 25,000 New Jersey residents applied for federal rental assistance after the storm. Constable said at least 7,000 will need housing after vacant rental units are used up, based on preliminary estimates by federal and state emergency management officials.
Officials are still counting the number who are staying with friends or relatives but who will need temporary housing.