LONG BRANCH, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday he expects federally funded grants for New Jersey business owners hit by Superstorm Sandy to arrive soon, but homeowners might be waiting a few months before they see their grants.
Christie said he is hoping for federal approval next week for the state's plan to distribute the first $1.8 billion of federal storm aid being used to cover unmet needs related to last October's storm.
New Jersey's share of that funding is to total nearly $5.5 billion. While it's only a piece of the $60 billion in disaster aid Congress approved in two bills earlier this year, it's one where the governor has direct say.
His plan for the first portion includes grants for homeowners hit by the storm and both grants and loans for businesses. Christie met with business owners in the shore community of Long Branch to go over details of the state government's plan.
Christie said that if New Jersey's plan is approved next week, the potential recipients can begin applying for the money soon. But it may take until July for allocations to homeowners because home rebuilding plans using federal money must receive federal and state environmental approval, he said.
Storm-damaged businesses would be eligible for grants up to $50,000 and loans up to $5 million.
Homeowners could get $150,000 to pay for rebuilding expenses not covered by insurance or other programs. Christie said homeowners will not get checks but rather the state will pay contractors directly — so long as the homeowners use approved firms.
Christie said that in many parts of the shore, the tourism industry will be ready to handle visitors for Memorial Day, the traditional start of the season. That, he said, is why a $25 million advertising campaign to let people in New Jersey and elsewhere know the destination is returning is an important piece of the unmet needs plan.
He said he told business owners he will be patronizing them.
"I told them they're going to see more of me at the Jersey Shore than they'd ever want to," Christie said.