New Jersey's damages due to Sandy were upped to a total of $39.6 billion Wednesday, as Gov. Chris Christie's office added an additional $7.4 billion in mitigation and prevention costs to its previous assessment of $29.4 billion in repair, response, and restoration damages that were previously announced.
The Governor's office said the estimates were based on land and aerial assessments that found more than 30,000 businesses and homes were destroyed or structurally damaged. Over $500 million in disaster assistance has already been distributed and 233,000 people in the Garden State have registered with FEMA.
A breakdown of the repair and response costs includes $8.3 billion for businesses; $4.9 billion for housing; $5.5 billion for parks and the environment; $3 billion for water, waste, and sewer repairs; $1.7 billion for utility recoveries; $1.4 billion for transit, roads, and bridges; and $1 billion for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Christie also said that he is working closely with New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo to align their assessments and requests for aid from the federal government. He and Cuomo released a joint statement saying that they would work in partnership to "ensure that our states receive federal support commensurate with the damage wrought by the storm." Christie, a Republican, and Cuomo, a Democrat, said the two state's economies and infrastructures "are inextricably linked" and that they would work together to make sure "we receive as much federal support as possible."
In related news, Christie also announced that Marc Ferzan, formerly of the state Attorney General's office and a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office under Christie, would head up recovery efforts within the Office of the Governor. Christie also announced that the state has hired Witt Associates, a disaster recovery consultancy. James Witt was special advisor to the State of Louisiana in the wake of Katrina and previously served as FEMA director under U.S. President Bill Clinton.