Despite challenges, N.J. slowly returning to normal, Christie says

KEANSBERG – Gov. Chris Christie said Monday the state is moving in the right direction and returning to normalcy after the hurricane.

Still, challenges remain, he said as he addressed hundreds of volunteers who helped distribute food, toiletries and clothes to residents who lost power in this beleaguered Monmouth County community where approximately 50 percent of the residents are still out of power.

Christie said some 40 percent of the schools were opened today and some 760,000 customers are still out of power. Just a week ago more than 2.5 million had their electricity knocked out by Hurricane Sandy.

One of the more disturbing things is having to comfort children he sees during damage assessment visits around the state, Christie said.

“I’ve hugged a lot of crying adults. I have a harder time with crying children,” he said.

Still, there was progress.

Christie said odd/even gas rationing that was instituted Saturday afternoon has helped in reducing excessively long waits at gas stations.  He expects the rationing system to remain in place for another day or two, just to be on the safe side in case any disturbance occurs following the Nor’easter that is forecast for Tuesday night.

“New Jerseyans are still uptight,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

"He’s obviously working very, very hard at it. I mean he’s traveling all over the country as chairman of the [Republican Governors Association] and I think at this point he has as good a chance or better than anybody else. His name is household word all across the country, and I think he would make a great president."
—former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), on Gov. Chris Christie