As post-Sandy recovery efforts continue across the tri-state area, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are making a joint push for federal relief aid, entreating the White House this week to cover billions of dollars worth of storm cleanup and prevention measures in the aftermath of the storm.
"If you've walked the streets and talked to homeowners and small business owners, you know how desperate this situation is," said Cuomo in remarks yesterday following a meeting with White House officials yesterday. "This is no time for politics."
In meetings with White House staff and on Capitol Hill yesterday, Cuomo pushed for $42 billion in federal aid on behalf of New York, and said he hoped for swift action from the White House "so we can plan and so we can proceed." He also said that Christie would be in Washington on Thursday for similar meetings, although Christie's office would not comment on Christie's schedule for that day.
"We want an answer and we want an answer and we want an answer quickly," Cuomo said. "These are big big numbers even for New York, and this is a very widespread scope of damage. You know, you normally don't have this type of natural disaster in this dense an area."
Christie, meanwhile, is asking FEMA to cover 100 percent of the state and local government costs associated with Sandy's destruction in New Jersey, as well as for its preventive measures for the future. Christie has said the storm caused $36.9 billion in damage to New Jersey.
"It has become clear that the financial burden and economic hardship still confronted by our state and communities threatens the ability to continue debris removal operations at the existing cost-share ratio," said Christie in a letter to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, which Christie's office released yesterday. "Any slowing of progress in continuing these essential operations in our communities puts in jeopardy a timely rehabilitation of our shore areas, relief from economic distress, and the removal of threats to the public health and safety. For these reasons, I am requesting that the federal government exercise its discretion to grant relief to New Jersey state and local governments with 100 percent federal reimbursement for categories A & B assistance for a period of no fewer than 90 days."
In a move signaling a solidified New York-New Jersey partnership, Cuomo, a Democrat, and Christie, a Republican, also released a joint statement yesterday pledging their commitment to securing federal relief aid "without delay."
"It is without dispute that New York and New Jersey sustained remarkable, widespread damage to homes, infrastructure, businesses and our economies as a whole from Hurricane Sandy," the two said in the statement. "We are committed to working together in a united, non-partisan effort with Congress and the Obama administration to bring aid to our states without delay, commensurate with the damage we sustained and in recognition of the importance of our economies, separate and combined."