EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey’s Senate budget committee has toured areas in Bergen County hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy and is hearing from local officials about damages.

The area flooded when the Hackensack River backed up due to a tidal surge.

County executive Kathleen Donovan told the committee that Bergen County suffered $40 million in damage to public property alone.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Donovan and county emergency management chief Dwane Razzetti told the committee two of the biggest problems were a fuel shortage and a lack of sheltering space.

The towns of Moonachie and Little Ferry suffered extensive damage.

Moonachie Mayor Dennis Vaccaro begged state lawmakers to help his battered borough get back on its feet without doing so on the backs of hard-hit homeowners, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

“I don’t think it will be fair when they’re done building for the government to give them another bill, I don’t think I can face my residents asking that,” Vaccaro said.

Little Ferry Mayor Mauro Raguseo is also struggling to find a just way to pay for the damages.

“Eighty percent of my town was flooded, 20 percent wasn’t,” Raguseo said. “Does that mean that the 20 percent that weren’t flooded are going to see a huge spike in their taxes to make up for the lost property values?”

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Raguseo said he is convinced that the damage from Sandy was preventable, based on a conversation he had with local officials 20 years ago.

“They realized then that what could have stopped the flooding at that point was a movable barrier in the Newark Bay,” Raguseo told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

The mayor conceded that would have been a costly endeavour, but worthwhile compared to the alternative.

“Twenty years later, we’re looking at significant damage. We’re looking at billions of dollars in FEMA payments,” Raguseo added.

Monday’s hearing at the Meadowlands Racetrack is the second of several the committee is holding in Sandy’s aftermath. Future hearings will focus on utilities, transportation and beach erosion and rebuilding.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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