By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Seaside Heights is coming back. They laid down the first boardwalk decking yesterday and today, a few blocks away, Home Depot opened a satellite store.
Gov. Chris Christie was there, cutting the first board — which is what they do when opening a new Hope Depot instead of cutting a ribbon.
Home Depot has basically taken over two floors of a downtown hotel — the White Pearl — and set up a consultation center where contractors and homeowners can come to talk to experts and look at samples without having to travel out to the Toms River mainland store.
“Doing something like this, this small Home Depot store, may seem simple to a lot of you. For us, to do something different takes an enormous amount of effort,” said Home Depot CEO Frank Blake.
“This is the first time this has ever been done in the history of our company. This was thinking outside the box, trying to find ways to better service the community here,” said Home Depot Regional Vice President Scott Murry.
The governor thanked Home Depot, which has 13,000 workers in New Jersey and 300,000 nationwide. And he reported on a helicopter tour he took yesterday from Atlantic City to Sandy Hook.
“And I saw both good things and difficult things. The good things are, the boardwalks are being rebuilt all the way up and down the shore,” Christie said. “But I also saw some of the enormous destruction that still exists right here in this area — in particular, places like Ortley Beach, Mantoloking and Bay Head where you still see the shoreline littered with destroyed homes.”
There is still plenty of work to do to get the shore ready for visitors by Memorial Day, he said.
“Understand that my commitment is to try to restore the Jersey Shore stronger than it was before but with the same character it had before. And that’s gonna be the part where we all have to work together. The character of this place is what makes it unique,” Christie said.
Congressman Jon Runyan agreed. “I would like to think that I know something a little about team-building. And I think that’s what we’re here are all about,” he said.
The governor continues to talk about Sandy recovery as though it has special meaning to him.
“Please be assured that this is never ever far from my mind,” Christie said. “There is nothing — simply nothing — more important for me to do as governor than this.”