As New Jersey begins moving on programs to help residents recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Chris Christie says maintaining the character of Jersey Shore towns is important.

Christie says New Jersey wants to use billions of dollars in federal Sandy aid to provide grants for residents to rebuild and elevate their homes.

"We want people to be able to afford their homes," he said Tuesday. "In the long haul, if flood insurance becomes prohibitive it will change the character of the Shore because only people who have greater means will be able to afford to have a home at the Shore any longer.

"We don't want to see that over the long term," Christie said.

The governor says some devastated communities where decades-old homes were destroyed will never look and feel the same again.

"The things that can be avoiding in changing the character will be avoided," Christie said. "The ones that we can't prevent because the damage is too severe, we're just going to have try to rebuild better and stronger and learn to appreciate the new nuances of character of the Jersey Shore."

Christie, who doesn't expect a significant number of residents who suffered storm damage will be priced out of living at the Shore, said the state wants to use billions of dollars in federal Sandy aid to provide grants for rebuilding and elevating those homes.

"I can't wave a magic wand and make all of this go away, but what I can do is try to smartly design programs that are grant programs that will give people -- regardless of their means -- an opportunity to rebuild their home and their business," the governor said. "I think that's the best we can do to maintain the character of this place over the long haul."