Monday, in a town hall meeting Governor Chris Christie, (R-NJ), Presidential candidate for President was asked about how the blizzard, that swept through the Northeast over the weekend, was being dealt with. Images of area of the Jersey shore have shown flooding, dunes washed away and in some areas such as West Wildwood, damages that could total in the millions. According to sources, the storm hit coastal Cape May County with tides higher than those measured during 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, sending salt water into properties and forcing hundreds of people to evacuate. Governor Christie flew into the area over the weekend but left by Monday to continue his campaign for President.
The woman asked Governor Christie, “Why are you here in New Hampshire campaigning instead of there, helping to survey the damages done by the coastal flooding from the storm?” The woman said that she once attended school in Pennington, New Jersey. She went on to say that she had friends across the state who were suffering from the effects of the blizzard due to flooding that occurred during high tide. Christie was not having it though. What appears to be a short tempered retort has residents of his own state wondering if he should even be Governor never mind President. “No one needed to be evacuated,” Christie said. “People left voluntarily and went to see family and friends like we asked them to if they lost their power.” Yet, video from the storm shows that first responders did in fact have to rescue residents from their homes when over 2 and 3 feet of water rushed in.
Governor Christie replied to the question as to why he was in New Hampshire and not in New Jersey was, “All over the state?” Christie replied. “Really? There’s been one county that’s flooded in the state. That was Cape May County. So I don’t know where from all over the state, since we have 21 counties, where that’s happened. Second, I don’t know what you expect me to do. You want me to go down there with a mop?” The response was hardly what residents who have had their homes damaged, who had to be rescued from their homes and elected officials hoped it would be. The Governor came across as flippant and without concern for the citizens that he is supposed to be representing.
Robert Scardino, a volunteer firefighter for almost 20 years, penned a opinion piece on how Governor Christie handled the crisis and how emergency workers feel disrespected by Governor Christie’s remarks. Scardino wrote, “however, when large scale disaster hits, our governor is either persona non grata or conveniently forgets that there is any state south of Trenton. This is no more evident than after what has been dubbed Winter Storm Jonas. Christie has dispensed a lack of respect and a lack of response.” Continuing, Scardino wrote, “ As the hours passed and high tides progressed through the Wildwoods, Sea Isle City, and Ocean City, images of flooding and devastation were everywhere.” Scardino ended with, “Christie should be charged with theft of service while he still collects a paycheck on the backs of New Jersey taxpayers. Beware America, this man is a charlatan and a bully.”
Tuesday, Senator Cory Booker toured the area and said of the damage, “the good is, we invested a tremendous amount of federal dollars on those dunes and they stopped the water from coming in and saved millions and millions of dollars. The bad is obviously the bayside, which didn’t have that protection. Had the two waters met from the bay and the ocean, it would have been catastrophic to the community.” North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello said of Christie’s comments, “Unlike the governor who is in New Hampshire, I am in New Jersey and have been through this entire weather event. I have been with our paid and volunteer rescue personnel throughout the weekend and have witnessed their rescues and heroic efforts throughout the weekend. His comments are disrespectful to the property owners and residents who went through a traumatic weather event.”