Governor Chris Christie said New Jersey may receive as little as $10 billion of federal recovery funds for $37 billion of damage from Hurricane Sandy.
“Some really difficult decisions will have to be made,” Christie, a second-term Republican, said at a town-hall meeting Tuesday in Berkeley Township.
The 51-year-old governor said a 12-step federal review for homeowners was “incredibly frustrating.” Of 2,600 properties subjected to environmental and historical checks, only 10 percent had issues, he said.
Still, the state has distributed or committed more than $1 billion, Christie told the crowd at a retirement-community clubhouse in Republican-leaning Ocean County.
Christie is using the town halls to highlight the response to Sandy that earned him record approval ratings last year as he sought re-election. He beat his Democratic opponent in November by 22 percentage points.
His ratings have since dropped amid state and federal investigations of the administration’s links to intentional traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Questions about political payback behind the shutdown of bridge-access lanes are hysteria created by the news media, Christie said last week on his monthly radio call-in program.
Christie, a potential presidential candidate, has blamed the federal government for delaying distribution of billions of dollars in Sandy aid. The storm struck in October 2012, devastating New Jersey’s 127-mile coastline, damaging 346,000 homes and plunging much of the state into darkness.
Most questions at Tuesday’s meeting focused on Sandy damage, even after the governor said he was open to other topics. He directed anyone with complaints to speak to representatives of Community Affairs, Banking and Insurance and other state departments set up at tables along the wall.
“The federal government should get the hell out of the flood-insurance business, because they don’t do it right,” Christie said to applause.
No one in the crowd of about 500 asked him about the bridge controversy.