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HUD Secretary Tours Bergen County, Promotes Regional Solutions To Future Storms

Donovan: Feds Helped Little Falls 'Recover Faster And Stronger' Than Expected
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Gov. Chris Christie in Little Ferry, August 20, 2013. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Gov. Chris Christie in Little Ferry, August 20, 2013. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

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Superstorm Sandy

LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Gov. Chris Christie have toured parts of northern New Jersey devastated by superstorm Sandy.

The two held a news conference Tuesday in Little Ferry, not far from the Meadowlands sports complex. The area suffered heavy flooding when a tidal surge sent the Hackensack River over its banks last October.

Before Gov. Christie arrived, the HUD secretary heard Moonachie resident Regina Casserly’s story of her row boat rescue when Sandy hit.

“One of the fellas says to me, ‘come on baby, we’re gonna pick you up.’ I said ‘oh boy, oh boy,'” Casserly said. “They picked me up, put me in the row boat, and then they took me down here to pick up three other people.”

Casserly said she was pleased with the federal response after the storm.

Gov. Chris Christie shakes a woman's hand in Little Ferry, NJ during a visit with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, August 20, 2013. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Gov. Chris Christie shakes a woman’s hand in Little Ferry, NJ during a visit with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, August 20, 2013. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

“FEMA took very good care of me,” she told Donovan.

In his remarks before a crowd in Little Ferry, Donovan used Casserly’s story as an example of one area where the response was successful.

“That’s not something you often hear, ‘FEMA took good care of me.’ That doesn’t mean we’ve gotten everything right. But by and large, we have helped this community recover faster and stronger than so many of us expected,” said Donovan.

Donovan heads the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

On Monday, he released a report that makes 69 recommendations for developing a strategy for rebuilding areas damaged by Sandy.

Most of the recommendations focus on planning for future storms in an age of climate change and rising sea levels. It calls for development of a more advanced electrical grid and the creation of better planning tools and standards for storm-damaged communities.

Donovan said the Presidential Task Force recommendations will lead to regional solutions for dealing with future storms.

“If there’s a sea wall built on the New York City side of New York Harbor, that’s going to push water towards New Jersey. But if we protect New York Harbor as a region, your creeks won’t flood in the same way next time,. All of this is connected,” said Donovan.

Donovan spoke Monday at a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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