Bob Menendez Leads U.S. Senate Delegation On LBI Tour [AUDIO]
Following the Obama Administration's request to Congress for $60.4 billion for Super Storm Sandy recovery funding on Friday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ led a delegation Monday of his U.S. Senate colleagues on a tour of storm-affected areas in New Jersey.
Senator Menendez welcomed U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jon Tester (D-MT) at Newark Liberty International Airport. After flying from Newark to Atlantic City, the delegation came to 49th Street and Ocean Boulevard, where U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials explained how a beach restoration project that began in June helped protect nearby homes and neighborhoods when the storm struck the shore at the end of October.
Mayor Joseph Mancini recounted his community's experiences through the Super Storm as he led the delegation on a tour through Long Beach as debris continued to be removed from the curbs in front of homes and businesses. The group then traveled south to Inlet Road and South Bay Avenue in Long Beach Island's Holgate section. With no dunes or other engineering on the nearby beach, homes were left with massive amounts of sand damage.
At a brief press conference, Senator Menendez thanked his colleagues for coming to New Jersey to see the effects of Super Storm Sandy.
"After what they have seen today, my colleagues will be prepared to help us pass the supplemental appropriations request the President sent to the Congress," said Senator Menendez. "Time is of the essence. Getting this passed amidst debates about the fiscal cliff, with only weeks left on the legislative calendar will require Houdini-level skill and effort. But we're going to do this. And we're going to do this with the help of our colleagues."
Senator Landrieu, who chairs the Senate Small Business Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Homeland Security, thanked Senator Menendez for the chance to see the storm damage in New Jersey.
"Our job now is to tell others what we've seen today and get this relief package passed as soon as possible so that people can have hope that the country will stand with you, as this part of the country stood with us along the Gulf Coast to help us rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said Senator Landrieu.
Senator Stabenow, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee, said the Senate Majority fully supported the efforts of New Jersey's senators to restore the Garden State.
"We want to get it done. It needs to get done right away," said Senator Stabenow. "This is a beautiful part of our country and we know that people have been devastated. We need to stand together. By Memorial Day things need to happen so that you can go into the tourist season and know that you're going to have the economic activity that your businesses and families need."
Menendez also vowed to work with the Army Corps of Engineers on rebuilding New Jersey's beaches, showing the delegation an example of where an engineered beach protected property and the damage inflicted in areas of town not protected by dunes.
"Its something we need to look into more closely."
A major roadblock has been funding.
"We have a series of beach projects that are authorized but have not yet started because they are not funded, other sections of Long Beach Island are included in that list," said Keith Watson, a project manager at the Army Corps of Engineers.