New Jersey News
Post-Sandy recovery inches forward in New Jersey
LINCROFT, N.J. -- The post-Sandy recovery in New Jersey continued to inch ever so slowly forward as Gov. Chris Christie announced an end to odd-even gas rationing and NJ Transit's head said a severely damaged rail line could be restored sooner than expected.
Those developments came Monday as the state also announced it was readying a shuttered military base to temporarily house residents displaced by the mega-storm.
Gas rationing had been in place in 12 northern counties since Nov. 3 after motorists experienced hours-long gas lines due to stations losing power and an interruption in deliveries from the ports. On Monday Christie announced that rationing will end at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Rationing continues in New York City, which imposed its restrictions six days after New Jersey.
Christie said one of the state's biggest challenges continues to be the restoration of rail service, hampered by flooding at rail stations and on tracks. He expressed frustration with those who have complained about two- to three-hour commutes into New York City.
"Sorry, we had a disaster," he said during a briefing 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," he said.
NJ Transit executive director James Weinstein offered hope on Monday that the system's most seriously damaged rail line, the North Jersey Coast Line, would be back in service earlier than originally expected.
Transit officials and engineers initially estimated it would take months to restore rail service over a bridge that had been knocked askew by a tidal surge. But Weinstein said the repairs could be completed as early as the end of the week and that service could resume next week. Trains would run from Long Branch to New York City, with service south of Long Branch to the end of the line in Bay Head still suspended.
Weinstein also said service on the Montclair-Boonton line, which has been suspended since the storm, likely would be restored on an abbreviated schedule by the end of the week.
On Monday, NJ Transit resumed partial service on the Bergen, Pascack Valley and Raritan Valley lines. More trains will be added once Amtrak finishes repairs on a substation in Kearny that was severely damaged by flooding, Weinstein said.
On the housing front, Christie 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.
State police on Monday raised the number of New Jersey deaths linked to Sandy to 33. As New Jersey zeroes 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.
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 recreate overnight communities that took decades to build," he said.
The state is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide temporary housing to those whose homes or apartments were damaged or destroyed, he said.
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.
Associated Press writer Angela Delli Santi contributed to this story from Lincroft.
Impacted residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut can apply for federal assistance. Affected residents must register with FEMA by phone or online to access that aid. To register by phone, residents can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY line for people with speech or hearing disabilities is 1-800-462-7585. The line is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days per week. To register online, applications may be completed at DisasterAssistance.gov.
If residents have disaster assistance questions, they may call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
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