By Steve Nikazy
HIGHLANDS, N.J. (CBS) — Today is six months to the day since Superstorm Sandy left parts of the Jersey shore devastated.
Now, state officials confirm that rebuilding efforts are on track for the summer tourism season.
For those who live north of Brigantine, NJ, it was the storm of the century. So, how are the rebuilding efforts going on this anniversary of the disaster?
“Things are much better, but we still have thousands of families that are homeless,” said Gov. Chris Christie today, “and we need to get their homes rebuilt. And businesses that have not reopened, we need to get those reopened in time for the summer season.”
HEAR Gov. Christie’s interview with KYW’s Steve Nikazy (runs 5:08)…
Damage has been figured in the billions of dollars.
What lessons does Christie think were learned from Sandy?
“The biggest lesson that we learned is that we have to build this dune system along all 130 miles of the Jersey coastline,” the governor told KYW Newsradio today. “And secondly,when we rebuild our homes and businesses, we have to rebuild them to heightened standards.”
Christie today announced a $25-million, post-Sandy marketing plan for the Jersey shore.
The governor also said today that President Obama “has kept every promise he’s made” about helping the state recover from Sandy.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, the Republican governor said presidential politics were the last thing on his mind as he toured storm-devastated areas with Obama last fall.
“The president has kept every promise he’s made,” said Christie, widely considered a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. “I think he’s done a good job. He kept his word.”
Christie’s warm embrace of Obama after the storm angered some Republicans, who said it helped tip a close presidential election to the Democrat and away from Mitt Romney, who Christie endorsed and for whom he campaigned last fall.
Christie says he and Obama have fundamentally different views on governing. But he said the two men did what needed to be done for a devastated region.
“I’ve got a job to do,” he said. “You wake up and seven million of your 8.8 million citizens are out of power, you’re not thinking about presidential politics. Put yourself in my shoes: if you’re a responsible political official, you’ll do nothing differently.
“I have a 95-percent level of disagreement with Barack Obama,” Christie said. “We saw suffering together. Everything the president promised me they’d do, they’ve done. I don’t have any complaint this morning on the issue of disaster relief.”
Sandy destroyed about 360,000 homes or apartment units in New Jersey, and some areas along the shore are still devastated.