New Jersey has entered a new normal, Gov. Chris Christie said Monday.
With the recovery effort largely concluded, the focus of state and federal agencies will turn to rebuilding the parts of New Jersey devastated by Hurricane Sandy, he noted during an appearance at the newly established Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Joint Field Office at the former Avaya building in Lincroft.
“We’ve returned to a sense of normalcy, that’s why I have the fleece off,” Christie said, joking about his signature accessory at a series of press conferences and appearances across the state. “It’s time to go back to work. It’s time to now focus on the task of rebuilding our state. The rebuilding process is not going to be easy. It’s going to be expensive and it’s going to take time.”
Power has been restored to all but 1,000 residents, problems with clean water supply in parts of the state has been resolved, 98 percent of schools will be open by Tuesday, and the odd-even gas rationing system will end at 6 a.m., he said.
The new normal, according to the governor, means that most New Jersey residents are returning to their normal routines. And for those displaced by storm damage, providing emergency assistance and temporary housing through state and federal resources will be the focus in the weeks ahead.
Some 877 individuals were housed in emergency shelter Sunday night, but the number of residents who require long-term housing is still being assessed, according to the governor.
“The unknown part of this is how many people are staying with friends and relatives who won’t able to do that for the long haul. Those are the people we’re going to have to accommodate going forward for more temporary housing,” Christie said.
Approximately 190,000 New Jersey have residents have registered with FEMA for and $127 million in aid has been approved, he noted.
In greeting an enthusiastic crowd of FEMA employees from across the country currently stationed in the Joint Field Office in Lincroft, Christie advised the workers that they would be fielding calls from a friendly by direct population in New Jersey.
“Our resilience has always been our biggest strength. There’s a lot of pain and lot of tears across the state and I’ve seen them first hand over the last two weeks. There’s an enormous sense of loss. But I’ve also met these same people who say, ‘We’re rebuilding. We’re coming back.’ I absolutely believe that that’s their intent,” he said.