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NBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript: Superstorm Sandy

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MATTHEWS: He reminds of a guy named Peter King, a congressman from New York.

Peter King, Congressman, thank you, because you`re known for your independence and figuring things outs for Ireland or this country. You`ve always seemed to do what you think is right. You and I have occasionally disagreed over issues like Gerry Adams.

But let`s talk about what we agree on. I have to admit guilt -- I was never aware until I went up there under during duress, went up there and learned about what was going on in Breezy Point. I actually saw a lot of what was happening and the horror of what happened to Staten Island, out there, where regular working class people have lived. They`re not resort areas. They happen to be beach but there where people live and build their houses and homes and families, getting hit after getting hit by other factors in their life. They didn`t have made to start with in these areas.

Talk about those people that got hit hard in the New York area.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, sure. You mentioned Staten Island. You mentioned Breezy Point. They were devastated. In my district, Long Beach, Lindenhurst, Massapequa, Amityville, Seaford, they were absolutely devastated. I mean, we`re talking about thousands of people were affected.

We had whole areas under water, houses actually blew up. Many were on fire and the flooding was so bad that the fire department couldn`t get to them. It was actually horrible.

I mean, to see -- it looked in some ways like a third world country. And you`re right, these were not -- you know, we`re not talking about mansions, we`re talking about schools of resource (ph), we`re talking about solid communities of solid, hardworking people. And they were devastated.

You go to someone`s house and the street and the lawn were strewn with all the family mementos, photos, paintings, books toys -- it was a terrible, terrible situation, yet the people never gave up, they fought hard and they`re still fighting hard today. But it was really to be in it -- I never thought coming from the Northeast that I`d be in the middle of a storm like that.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KING: It`s just not something we identify with.

MATTHEWS: You know, the pictures we`re showing now, never got the media attention. Or maybe I should be blaming myself for not being part of doing that right. But nothing like Katrina got. We talked about Katrina for months around in the media. And New York, the center of the world media, and yet, it never got the attention. It`s so weird.

Let me ask -- one thing a lot of people don`t understand if they haven`t been there, imagine you have a house and the house is condemned. It`s sitting up on blocks or something or it`s been -- it moves and you have no electrical system, the whole area doesn`t have an electrical system, the huge capital costs that are involved here, is not just repainting or fixing some shutters. I mean, look at this stuff here.

What`s the condition right now of the politics and what`s the condition of the rebuilding?

KING: Well, as far as the politics, again, those of us in New York and New Jersey, you know, we`re working together. We have no time for the other stuff. There`s no government shutdowns going on in New York and New Jersey right now, unlike Washington. No.

But as far as the rebuilding that`s coming in, Chris, in Congress, it took so long, it took over 90 days before the aid was approved. It took 10 days for Katrina. So, 10 days versus 90 days, then you have another 60 days for the federal government to come up with a proposal. They have to solicit comments.

And then because the damage was so extensive, it`s required actually a lot of engineering work that involves consultation of local mayors and county executives. So I give the administration credit, Tom Donovan at HUD, he`s doing a good job. The money was coming in. But a lot of that it`s just because it was so enormous, that again, a lot of it`s going to be rebuilding, it`s going to be for instance rebuilding sewage plants, rebuilding road ways, train yards, rail road lines, and to do that, we don`t want to spend the money and go through this in another four or five years.

So, the money has been spent very smartly and slowly. As a result of that, though, it is having a hard time getting out. But right now, it`s moving a lot more quickly.

But I would just say this to some of these people, like Tom Coburn, who say the money`s not being spent fast enough. They`d be the first to be yelling if the money was being spent too fast. They would say, you guys are just wasting money.

Instead we`re being very prudent and working with the federal government, state government, country government, city government. Everyone is working together.

And yes, this is slower than we like. On the other than, money`s not being wasted. These are all good projects, these are all good attempts to get the money into people and the homes. And, again, you have insurance companies at times a getting in the way. Sometimes you have problems with FEMA, even though overall has done a great job.

But again, you get something so large. Now, 16 percent of New York City is under water. Just to give you an example, in a major urban area to have so much under water, subway system, roads, bridges, tunnels, it`s just terrible.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think government in this case is the solution. It`s not the problem.

Thanks so much, U.S. Congressman Peter King of New York.

KING: Thank you, Chris.

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