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Christie announces new round of post-Sandy home elevation grants

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KEANSBURG, New Jersey — Dozens more homeowners have received grants to raise their homes above flood levels in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Keansburg on Monday to announce that 132 more federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program awards have been granted to New Jersey homeowners across 29 towns to help cover the costs of elevation to protect against future storms.

As of now, officials said 460 of the more than 1,200 Sandy elevation applications submitted by the state to the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been awarded, totaling approximately $12 million. Christie said he expects more approvals in "the very near future."

PHOTO: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Martin, left, listens as Gov. Chris Christie addresses the state's efforts to raise homes above flood level, as they stand in front of the partially raised home of Linda Patterson Monday, July 7, 2014, in Keansburg, N.J. Homeowners with federal flood insurance are eligible for grants of up to $30,000 to raise their houses to comply with new standards. New Jersey is also using the largest portion of its allocation of federal relief funds after Superstorm Sandy to pay for homeowners to repair, rebuild and elevate their homes. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Martin, left, listens as Gov. Chris Christie addresses the state's efforts to raise homes above flood level, as they stand in front of the partially raised home of Linda Patterson Monday, July 7, 2014, in Keansburg, N.J. Homeowners with federal flood insurance are eligible for grants of up to $30,000 to raise their houses to comply with new standards. New Jersey is also using the largest portion of its allocation of federal relief funds after Superstorm Sandy to pay for homeowners to repair, rebuild and elevate their homes. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

"We recognize that these months have been extraordinarily hard on all the families who were affected by Sandy and we know that rebuilding their lives for the future can't come fast enough," Christie said at a news conference in front of a home owned by Bob and Linda Patterson that is in the process of being elevated.

The Pattersons, who have been living in a hotel room since the storm, said they were thrilled to finally be returning to their home at the end of the summer. They said the cost of elevation totaled about $60,000, half covered by the grant and half by insurance money.

"It's been a long and arduous road," said Linda, 60. "We finally see a light at the end of the tunnel for us. There's been a long time where we thought we saw the light and then it got taken away and it was frustrating."

The state has committed approximately $100 million in HMGP FEMA funds to elevate approximately 2,700 residential structures in the nine counties most impacted by the storm. Homeowners are eligible for grants of up to $30,000 to raise their homes to comply with new standards as long as their homes are structurally sound. Second homes are not included in the program.

The state taxation division has said more than 40,000 properties suffered a total of $4.3 billion in lost value from storm damage.

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