UNION BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gov. Chris Christie and members of his administration held a “Mobile Cabinet” meeting at a Union Beach firehouse to discuss recovery efforts, 100 days after superstorm Sandy slammed ashore.
Gov. Christie was blunt as he talked to an audience in the hard-hit bay shore community about the government’s handling of the National Flood Insurance Program. The governor said the program has funding, but has not yet released it to the state.
“It’s a disgrace,” said Christie. “So it’s now time for our federal representatives to get on the ball and get all over the National Flood Insurance Program to start getting these claims paid.”
“The National Flood Insurance Program has stunk and the fact of the matter is, I’ve been as patient as I’m going to be now with the National Flood Insurance Plan and now I’m going to have to turn my special brand of love and affection on the National Flood Insurance Plan,” Christie said.
In the three-plus months since Sandy hit, 70 percent of cases remain unresolved in New Jersey, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“I’ve been as patient as I’m going to be with the National Flood Insurance Program,” Christie said. “They need to get more people into New Jersey, they need to get to work, they need to get to processing these things. People need to know how much money they’re going to have.”
The governor complained that excessive paperwork for victims to fill out, combined with inadequate staffing and cumbersome audits has prolonged the suffering for Sandy victims.
Sandy damaged or destroyed about 346,000 housing units in New Jersey, resulting in estimated damage and future storm mitigation costs of $37 billion.
Watch Gov. Christie’s Comments From Union Beach
The state and charities are waiting for the federal settlements so they can know how much to award in grants to help people rebuild, the Republican governor said.
Christie said he is asking New Jersey’s congressional delegation to pressure the Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve the performance of the flood insurance program. A FEMA spokesman said he had no immediate comment.
The governor complained that only about 30 percent of flood claims have been settled, or closed, compared with nearly 80 percent of the more than 430,000 other insurance claims filed by residents and businesses.
He said “it is imperative that insurance claims be brought to final resolution so that residents can make critical decisions on if and how to rebuild.”
Christie also announced that the state Department of Banking and Insurance will start requiring private insurers to respond within five days to Sandy-related complaints filed with state. Insurance companies currently have 15 business days to respond to the department.
Early this year, Congress passed the first wave of federal Sandy aid, which included nearly $10 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program.
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