Alex Witt   |  April 28, 2013

6 months after Sandy, New Jersey still rebuilds

MSNBC’s Alex Witt interviews the Mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, Vincent Barrella, for an update on his town’s rebuilding effort six months after Superstorm Sandy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> thousands of gut -- r gutted homes. joining me now via skype, the mayor barilla. we just heard christopher dickey talking about people carrying on, which certainly you have done there in that community, but talk about the damages that superstorm sandy caused.

>> thank you for having me, alex. sandy knocked out about 60% of our housing, in the sense that they were flooded. the boardwalk was about 85% damaged or destroyed. restaurants, some infrastructure. it's been a long road back.

>> i can imagine. of course, with summer looming, it's where you make a lot of tourism dollars, a lot from me over the years as well. it's a wonderful place. what's the status of things?

>> okay. there's very little that you were able to do last year in point pleasant beach, that you will not be able to do this summer. the boardwalk was opened on friday, 4 thousands of the approximate 5200 feet of it was opened to public on friday. the rides are open. by memorial day , the entire length of the boardwalk will be open, with the exception, as i said, of a couple restaurants and perhaps one bar. everything should be open and should be business as usual . getting the -- getting people back into their homes is a more difficult task, and that's where the focus is, and has been, but it's just a slower process.

>> i'm sure you've been communicating with your colleagues, the heads of other, you know, beach towns there. what's the story there? how railroad faring compared to them?

>> we are doing pretty well, compared to some towns, especially the towns to my south. they really were hit very hard. they don't have the same commercial tourism industry we have, so it's a different dynamic, so to speak. in bell mar, i think we are probably ahead of where belmar is.

>> you know, it took more than two months after that storm, and then we heard the famous youth burst from governor christie, before congress finally voted on a relief package. what was running through your mind as all this was playing out?

>> dealing with the issues on the ground p there was very little as a mayor of a 5,000-person town that i would have to be able to do. though i will tell you this -- congressman smith has been absolutely magnificent in terms of providing assistance. you know, as far as our concern, it was what we could do to get the debris off the streets, to come up with a plan to make sure we would be at least ready to be open, focusing on the boardwalk, focusing again on getting resources in for those people who have been displaced. as far as the actual dollars go, that happens at a level above my pay grade .

>> well, you know about dollars, $60 billion-plus dollars came through, some of it went to your community, but i guess everyone looks at that and thinks that money needs to be spent to repair and po templeally prevent in the future disasters like this from happening. where does that stand, in your mind?

>> okay. the most critical step at this point in time and what we are working on right now, and have been for a while, is to secure those easements necessary both with homeowners and businesses to allow the army corps of engineers to put together a replenishment project for point pleasant beach as part of the overall project from island beach state park north. so getting those dunes in place will be an essential part of protecting the town.

>> we wish you the best of luck, and you for your time, mayor.

>> thank you.