On Sunday, Vice President Biden traveled to the New Jersey Shore and the City of Hoboken to personally survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and meet with first responders on post-storm response and recovery efforts. The trip began with a helicopter flight along the shoreline of Monmouth and Ocean Counties to provide the Vice President an overhead view of the destruction Sandy brought to the North Barrier Islands. He was joined by Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Jon Runyan, and New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.
Once he landed, the Vice President received briefings at the Seaside Heights City Hall and Volunteer Fire Department by Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies, Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers of Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett, Jr, Seaside Heights Fire Chief James Samarelli and Police Chief Thomas Boyd. Vice President Biden had the opportunity to meet and thank local first responders, many of whom had also lost their own homes during the storm.
While the Vice President found the briefings to be very informative, putting boots in the sand was key to getting a full appreciation of the conditions on the island. As Vice President Biden surveyed the beach at Seaside Park, he was able to see first-hand how an “engineered” beach can diffuse the impact of storm surge waves, better protecting homes and businesses close to the shore. Representatives from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) discussed the range of federal programs available to address damage to public beaches.
From Seaside Park Beach, the Vice President and the delegation traveled to the Seaside Heights Boardwalk where they toured the wreckage that had once been a thriving amusement park. While surveying the damage, Vice President Biden spoke of his personal connection to the New Jersey shore and stressed the combined long term commitment across the federal, state, and local governments to help the community rebuild. He emphasized that this effort would be enduring and that it was a national responsibility to bring back the shore and revitalize the beaches.
After departing Seaside Heights, Vice President Biden was once again airborne to complete his survey of the damages along the shore and up to Hoboken. In Hoboken, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Albio Sires, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise joined the delegation to tour the Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region that sustained significant damage due to flooding. Over 50,000 people rely on the Hoboken Terminal every day to get to work, school, and other places, making it essential to get the terminal back up and running.
The Vice President toured the terminal including the underground Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) station as well as the New Jersey Transportation Light Rail terminal to discuss water removal efforts and observe progress with repairs. In the historic terminal building, Vice President Biden met with first responders and affected Hoboken residents. He thanked the responders for their selfless dedication and their ongoing efforts to get the terminal back to full capacity. The Vice President reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to working with Governor Christie, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and the rest of the New Jersey delegation to do what is needed to get the terminal back up and running. He spoke of the use of hundreds of buses to ensure people had a means to get to work while repairs at the terminal continued.
Vice President Biden also emphasized that as we rebuild our infrastructure, we need to make it much more resilient than it is today and that rebuilding was not just a state or local matter but was in the interest of the entire nation to restore a region so vital to our nation's economy.
The Vice President concluded his time in Hoboken with stops at two local businesses, the latter of which had flooded during Sandy and was now open for business. Throughout the trip, Vice President Biden was accompanied by Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation, John Porcari, Deputy FEMA Administrator Rich Servino, and FEMA’s Assistant Administrator for Response, Bob Fenton.