Sarah Gonzalez, Reporter, WNYC/NJPR
Sarah Gonzalez is the northern New Jersey enterprise reporter for WNYC and NJPR.
Gov. Chris Christie still isn't criticizing NJ Transit's handling of Sandy -- even after reports that New Jersey Transit did not follow its own hurricane plan to move rail cars to higher ground ahead of Sandy. Trains were parked in flood plains, resulting in more than $120 million in damages. But the governor -- who's known for his take-no-prisoners style -- did not declare any failure on behalf of NJ Transit.
He said having a plan is only one part of an emergency response.
“The plan is written at a time when you don’t know what the specific threat is going to be,” Christie said. “But everyone, I think, in this administration worked as well as we could under a crisis that the state had never faced before.”
A WNYC/Record investigation revealed NJ Transit ignored repeated warnings about the effects of extreme storms brought on by climate change. Christie has expressed doubts about climate change.
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is conducting an after-action study to review the way NJ Transit responded to Sandy.
“And if there were mistakes made, we’ll correct them for the next time,” Christie said.
The after-action reports are underway now, but Christie said they are a lower priority than getting residents back in their homes.
Christie was speaking at the Secaucus Junction Station along with the U.S. Energy Secretary Ernet Moniz to announce plans for “NJ TransitGrid.”
NJ Transit is receiving a million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to assess the rail system’s energy needs, and to help develop a microgrid system that would allow the public transportation systems to run during a power outage or future natural disasters.
Sandia National Laboratories will design an electric grid for NJ Transit that would kick-in if the national grid fails, for example.
It’s part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for making the country’s infrastructure “smarter and stronger so that it can withstand new and more serious environmental threats and increasingly severe weather events,” according to Secretary Moniz.
Sandia National Laboratories has already designed microgrids for more than 20 military bases across the country.