Gov. Chris Christie visited a devastated Sayreville early Wednesday, telling residents to “hang in there” and promising to speak with President Barack Obama about getting FEMA’s full support in helping the region recover.
The governor toured the area ahead of Obama’s stop in New Jersey. Christie met with residents, many of which are returning to their homes that have been flooded by seawater.
“This is going to be a bit of a haul,” Christie told residents, some of whom cried in the governor’s arms, according to pool reports.
“I don’t feel safe in my house and I don’t know what to do,” cried Elaine Konopka.
Sayreville, a Middlesex County town southwest of Staten Island, sustained severe damage from Hurricane Sandy. Almost 200 people were rescued, mostly by boat, and 130 remain in shelters.
Search-and-rescue operations were postponed for 24 hours after the storm because of the severity of the conditions, officials said.
“Please help us,” Sayreville resident Theresa Mills said to Christie, who responded, “That’s what I’m here to do.”
The governor toured the destroyed homes and met with other residents asking for help.
Kim Bosso, whose son has cystic fibrosis and has been cut off from his breathing machine since the power went out, told Christie her utility company informed her she was not a priority case for power restoration. Bosso said her insurance won’t cover her is she goes to the hospital.
“This is my lawyer,” Christie responded, introducing the mother to Charles McKenna, his chief council.
“He’s going to take care of you,” he said.
Christie told reporters he wanted to visit Sayreville before his planned visit with the president so he could let Obama know firsthand that “it’s not just the Jersey Shore that’s been devastated.”
“I wanted to be some of his eyes and ears for this so you’ll be sure I’ll be talking to the president in a couple of hours about what I saw here in Sayreville and about the fact that we need FEMA to be here and be a presence,” Christie said.