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NJ seeks $37B in federal aid for Sandy recovery

Paul Lynch, a contractor, worked to repair the home he built 23 years ago, which was damaged by Sandy in Toms River, N.J; 230,000 New Jerseyans have sought federal aid.

ANDREW BURTON/REUTERS

Paul Lynch, a contractor, worked to repair the home he built 23 years ago, which was damaged by Sandy in Toms River, N.J; 230,000 New Jerseyans have sought federal aid.

TRENTON, N.J. — Governor Chris Christie has asked the federal government for nearly $37 billion to help New Jersey recover and rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

Christie announced the revised total Wednesday to include $7.4 billion to cover mitigation, protection, and prevention of future disasters. A preliminary total of $29.4 billion announced last week covers repairs and response. The total amount he sought is greater than New Jersey’s entire annual budget.

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‘‘My commitment to the people of New Jersey is to make steady progress in our recovery, and to know that three or six or 12 months from now I’ll demand the same level of effort, attention, and results from government as I have in the past 30 days,’’ Christie said at a news conference.

The Republican governor said Monday that he would seek reelection next year. He said he was motivated, in part, by a desire to continue to lead the state through the rebuilding phase after the hurricane.

Christie named a former US attorney’s office colleague, Marc Ferzan, to spearhead the recovery and rebuilding efforts. Ferzan, who is leaving the private sector to rejoin government, will be paid a Cabinet-level salary of $141,000.

The administration also hired Witt Associates, a disaster management company founded by former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt.

Christie said more than 30,000 homes and businesses were destroyed or had structural damage during Sandy, and that 42,000 buildings had lesser damage from the October storm.

He said FEMA has distributed more than $500 million in assistance so far; 230,000 New Jerseyans have registered for federal help.

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York sought $42 billion in US aid — $32 billion for repairs and restoration, and more than $9 billion to prevent future disasters, including steps to protect the power grid and cellphone network.

Christie said that it is now up to New Jersey’s congressional delegation — made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats — to fight for the assistance.

He has said he expects the federal government to compensate New Jersey and New York the same as it provided aid to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas following Hurricane Katrina.

Christie also said he and Cuomo have agreed not to compete for federal funds.

‘‘We’re not going to allow any political forces in Washington, D.C., to divide and conquer us,’’ Christie said.

‘‘We going to go down there as a team, we’re going to work together, and advocate for the numbers we put forward. These are realistic numbers that we need.’’

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