On a cold and rainy day that marks six months since Hurricane Sandy struck, Gov. Chris Christie today visited businesses and greeted residents on Bay Avenue in Highlands, before he and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced HUD’s approval of New Jersey’s plan to spend $1.8 billion in federal grants on storm recovery.
“Today’s news sends a very powerful message that New Jersey is moving forward, and that the Jersey Shore will be open for business this summer,” Christie said in prepared remarks. “These funds will provide critical resources to our Sandy-impacted homeowners and businesses to reconstruct, rehabilitate and continue down the road of recovery. While there is much work ahead of us, we have come a long way during these last six months, and I want to thank Secretary Donovan and his team for their tireless efforts as we all work together to rebuild our great state.”
Donovan, who chairs President Barack Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, said today’s approval of the money, funded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, will allow the state to begin the long-term process of rebuilding damaged housing, restoring infrastructure, and stimulating business activity and job growth.
“Today we take another important step toward recovery and healing for hard-hit communities in New Jersey,” Donovan said in a statement. “HUD has worked closely with Governor Christie, Senators (Robert) Menendez and (Frank) Lautenberg, and the New Jersey congressional delegation to help design effective programs that will help small businesses reopen, get families back in their homes and make communities more resilient as quickly as possible.”
The money will be used to restore housing and infrastructure, as well as for economic revitalization in disaster-affected areas. The funds will meet recovery needs not covered by other federal assistance, private insurance, or other sources.
On Jan. 29, Obama signed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 into law, providing a total of $16 billion in CDBG Disaster Recovery funding. HUD quickly allocated $5.4 billion to five states, including New Jersey.
To date, the total amount of insurance payouts in New Jersey has been $3.2 billion, and 93 percent of insurance claims have been closed, according to figures provided by the Christie administration. SBA disaster loans approved for homeowners, renters and businesses amount to more than $718 million, and more than $384 million in FEMA grants have been approved for New Jersey individuals and households.