New York

Christie to Sandy Heckler: “Sit Down and Shut Up”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told a heckler critical of his handling of the Sandy recovery to "sit down and shut up'' on the second anniversary of the storm.

A man began heckling Christie about the pace of storm recovery and interrupted the governor's speech Wednesday in Belmar on several occasions.

After trying to brush the man off, Christie yelled back the man didn't know what he was talking about and was just showing off for the news cameras.

When heckler Jim Keady continued, Christie told him: "Sit down and shut up.''

Keady founded a group called Finish The Job, which is critical of the pace of rebuilding assistance in New Jersey.
The Oct. 29, 2012, storm, which was spawned when Hurricane Sandy merged with two other weather systems, devastated the oceanfront coastline and caused catastrophic flooding in New York and in New Jersey, including Hoboken and Jersey City. It was blamed for at least 182 deaths and $65 billion in damage in the U.S.

In New Jersey, the Fair Share Housing Center faulted the pace of aid distribution, saying only $220 million of the $1.1 billion the state has received for its main rebuilding grant program is in the hands of homeowners.

"It seems like a lot longer than two years," Christie said after the heckling incident was over. "This has been a long, long two years and a long struggle. Time doesn't move as quickly as we might like it to."

Christie said his administration will keep working until everyone who needs help gets it.

Recovery in New Jersey and New York is happening unevenly, with many houses, boardwalks and businesses rebuilt but many people still unable to return to their homes.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and federal officials toured a flood-ravaged neighborhood near Raritan Bay in Union Beach where many residents are struggling to rebuild. Andrea Kassimatis held her 6-month-old daughter as she described living with four other relatives in a 37-foot trailer next to a partially built home.

"It's been a rough and grueling process," she said. "You feel like your government has forgotten you."

Kassimatis has received a $150,000 rebuilding grant from New Jersey but only got a third of what her flood insurance policy was supposed to pay — a common refrain up and down the coast.

"Don't believe what you have from a flood insurance policy," she warned. "Because what you're sold is not what you're going to get."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joined City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other elected officials to work with Habitat for Humanity at a storm-damaged home in Brooklyn. The group has helped rebuild 100 homes in New York. In the afternoon, he toured a Staten Island neighborhood named Ocean Breeze and recounted the destruction.

"This borough, this island, in many ways bore the brunt of the storm: 44 lives lost due to Sandy, 23 from Staten Island," he said. "A lot of pain, and a lot of memory. We are now safer than we were two years ago, that is a matter of fact. But we have a lot more to do. I can say with assurance, when we gather a year from now, we will be safer than we were in 2014."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state has supported the repair and rebuilding of nearly 10,000 households, provided $20.8 million in grants to small businesses and facilitated the proposal of approximately 600 projects through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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