Three years after Sandy, N.J. residents say Christie has 'forgotten about us'

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he has 'a pretty good batting average' when it comes to Sandy cleanup efforts.

Mel Evans/AP
People gather during a demonstration across from the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J., Oct. 27. Superstorm Sandy victims who either still are not back in their homes or just recently got back tried to pitch tents to dramatize their plight but were prevented from erecting the tents by State Police.

In his bid for the White House, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is leaving behind people in his home state who are still struggling to rebuild three years after Superstorm Sandy, some residents say.  

Victims of the storm, a dozen of whom gathered outside the State House to protest, said they feel the governor has “forgotten about us” while out on the campaign trail.

Hoping to set up tents and camp out across from the capitol building in Trenton on Tuesday to bring attention to their issues, the demonstrators were ousted by state police who said it was unlawful to set up tents. But protestors say they still plan to sit or stand outside for the remainder of the week. Several in attendance have still not returned to homes they fled when the storm struck on Oct. 29, 2012.

"He's completely forgotten about us," said Doug Quinn, whose house in Toms River remains unlivable, in an interview with The Associated Press. "He didn't even mention Sandy in his State of the State speech. We feel absolutely abandoned by Chris Christie."

According to the state’s Community Affairs Department, as of Tuesday 7,680 of the more than 8,000 homeowners entered into the state's grant program to rebuild have accepted payments from the state, with more than 7,600 receiving their first payouts, which the agency says means they are in construction.

About a quarter of that 8,000 have completed construction, and a little more than half of the $659 million allocated for the program has been dispersed to homeowners to date.

The protesters gathered outside the State House have, for the most part, received some amount of financial assistance. But they told the AP that "red tape, contractor delays, insurance disputes, and more have kept them from fully rebuilding."

Governor Christie says he has "a pretty good batting average," in a recent response to criticism to New Jersey's rebuilding efforts. 

"I will never be completely satisfied until everybody who wants to be back in their home is back in their home," he said at a press conference in Sea Isle City’s Fire Department. "But to say that in less than three years, we have the overwhelming majority – 365,000 homes damaged or destroyed in Sandy – and now you're talking about a few thousand that are left, folks who have not gotten back in, I think it's a pretty good record."

Another protester at the State House, Joe Mangino, told the AP that he went so far as to follow Christie to a campaign event in Iowa back in March, where he disrupted the presidential-hopeful’s speech with complaints about the speed – or lack thereof – of post-Sandy cleanup.

A guy yelled "Shut up and go home!" says Mr. Mangino. "I said, 'Don't you get it? That's why I'm here: I have no home.' "

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.