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MADDOW: New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone was with Governor
Christie today before the governor then spent the rest of the day doing
storm response with President Obama. Congressman Pallone is with us now.
He represents New Jersey`s sixth congressional district, which, as you can
see is a shoreline district, fronting both New York harbor and the Atlantic
Ocean. Sir, thanks very much for your time. I know this is a difficult time.
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: I know you`ve been all over your district in the past couple
of days. What kind of damage are you seeing along the coast and in the
cities of your district?
PALLONE: It`s all kinds of I mentioned Union Beach to you
before. That`s a place where maybe three or four blocks from the bay, from
the Raritan Bay, the storm surge came in and the waves were pounding on top of the houses. So, some house just washed away completely. Others were pounded to rubble. I had never seen anything like that before.
There are other places like Highlands, New Jersey, where almost the
entire town was underwater, maybe almost up to the second floor of the
homes. And those homes really don`t seem to be habitable anymore. So you
have towns that were wiped out.
You have incredible -- I just came, I kind of apologize for being
dressed this way, but I just came from Carteret, and I saw the natural gas
explosion. We had a natural gas or a gas station explosion that wiped out
five homes adjacent to each other.
And I was talking to the people there, because as the storm surge came
in, I guess it knocked off the boiler or the tank, and the gas exploded and
the house went up in flames and four others houses adjacent there too went
up in flames. So there are all kinds of things like that, Rachel.
MADDOW: I don`t want to draw a comparison with hurricane Katrina. I
want to use it as an analogy. But the analogy here that might be helpful
is that when we think back to Katrina and what big impact that was on our
country and that meant for us as a nation, we very rarely think about the
wind and the rain that was the initial storm. We think about the
aftermath. Right now, we are in the aftermath period of this superstorm
How do you feel in terms of dealing with the aftermath -- describing
those explosions, these ongoing worries, before we get to rebuilding,
rescuing people, taking care of continuing damage right now -- how would
you assess the response and the coordination between the federal
government, the state government, municipalities? How are we doing?
PALLONE: I think we`re doing very well. I mean, you heard the
president, and I have to say that I think his response has been terrific,
really. And it`s been coordinated, unlike some of what happened in
PALLONE: And you heard, you know, Governor Christie, who`s a
Republican, with President Obama, working together. And that`s how it`s
been, from the president to the governor, all the way down to the county
and the towns.
So one of the things that I did today, in fact, I was just on the
phone before I came in here, was talk to FEMA about trying to get an office
and a staff person in various parts of the district that I viewed today,
and they`re working on it.
I also asked, with the money that comes to towns for recovery, like to
rebuild their boardwalks or their municipal buildings if they`ve lost it or
their streets, I think there`s a 25 percent state and local match. So
we`ve asked and I believe the governor asked today that that be waived,
because a lot of these towns are very small and they can`t afford that 25
So there`s just a lot of cooperation going on. It doesn`t seem like
that was the case with Katrina.
MADDOW: And when you`re making those calls, just to be clear,
somebody`s answering your calls and you`re getting responses, you`re
PALLONE: I literally called FEMA, when I walked into your -- into the
NBC building here today, and within 10 minutes, they called me back.
MADDOW: Congressman Frank Pallone represents New Jersey`s sixth
congressional district. I know that you, sir, were personally evacuated
and you`re back without power now. I know that your staff is dealing with
that too. It doesn`t make this any easier.
Good luck to you and stay in touch with us.
PALLONE: Thank you very much.
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