Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held his first town hall meeting since Sandy caused major damage to the state. He told the town hall audience in Belmar that the state still has "big problems and big challenges" to deal with seven weeks after the storm.
The governor received a warm welcome from the capacity crowd of 500 at the municipal building of the shore town that sustained heavy damages. Some 40 students of Belmar Elementary School are still displaced with no timeframe for being able to move back home.
Aside from answering questions about recovery, he had a message for Congress: “People are suffering, don’t forget it.” He remained hopeful that Congress would pass the $60.4 billion relief package by the New Year.
But he added that the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund run by Mary Pat Christie and former Senator Bill Bradley raised $26.5 million. He said money would be given out in about two weeks and would act as gap financing for people waiting for FEMA or insurance money.
But at least one person in the crowd had a non-Sandy related question.
When asked about 2016, and if he thought he was too moderate for the Republican Party, Christie demurred. He said, “I try to live in the present. I have one thing on my mind and that’s recovering the state and rebuilding the state in time for the summer.”