State's First Lady Talks About Her Work As Head Of Relief Fund

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the days after superstorm Sandy walloped New Jersey, the state’s first lady was called into action by her husband.

Since then, Mary Pat Christie has been a woman on a mission, heading the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, which has made recovery possible for many New Jersey residents.

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As the anniversary of the storm approaches, Gov. Chris Christie’s wife spoke to CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson on Tuesday about her experiences from that day and the work she’s doing now.

Christie said she still has vivid memories of the day Sandy made landfall.

Photos: Sandy One Year Later

“I remember the night of Hurricane Sandy, driving down to the governor’s residence in Princeton and having detours to go around and not being able to get back into my own home because our driveway was blocked by trees,” she said. ” And driving down (Route) 35 and seeing the devastation at the beach.”

In Sandy’s aftermath, it was urgent for someone to be in charge of a relief fund, and Christie received a direct order from her husband to take ownership of it.

“I’ve been really inspired by the people that I’ve gotten to meet around the state,” she said. “It’s really gratifying.”

Link: Information on Sandy Service Days

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There was criticism initially that the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund was slow to give out money, but now, millions of dollars are going to help those in need.

“By the end of October, we will have granted 25 million (dollars) to over 80 organizations,” Christie said. “And we grant money to organizations that are on the ground doing the work, and we’re really making a difference in people’s lives.”

To commemorate the storm’s anniversary, the fund in holding Sandy Service Days on Oct. 26 and Oct. 29, when thousands of volunteers are expected to roll up their sleeves to work on projects. More volunteers are needed, the first lady said.

“They’re in store for getting work gloves on and really taking down Sheetrock still … a lot of moving debris still,” she said. “It’s hard to believe, Kristine, but a year later, we will have those type of things that need to be done.”

Christie said that ultimately, out of Sandy’s dark days and nights, its lasting impact will be seen in both the strength of what is rebuilt and the spirit of those who lived through the storm.

“I think that New Jersey is going to be stronger,” she said. “Both stronger physically and emotionally as a state. I think that will be the legacy of Sandy.”

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