Christie on Nor'easter: I'm Waiting for the Locusts Next

Governor Chris Christie insists that New Jersey is ready for the post-Sandy Nor'easter, even as many storm victims are still in cleanup and recovery mode

By David Chang
|  Friday, Sep 20, 2013  |  Updated 12:39 PM EDT
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Christie: "I'm Waiting for the Locusts Next"

NBC10.com

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Katie Wilford had to leave her Brick Township home near Barnegat Bay as the Nor'Easter approached. She bundled her sons Nick, 14, and Matthew, 10, into the minivan in search of an open motel.

“It's a little overwhelming,” she said. “I can't believe we're doing this again. We're going on Day 10 with no power. That's a long time. I just want the sun to come out and things to be normal again.”

Brick is one of several shore communities that had to evacuate in preparation for today's Nor'Easter.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie assured everyone that the state is prepared during a news conference on Wednesday.

Christie noted that residents and emergency workers are weary, and joked about what else could go wrong.

“So we're getting ready for another storm,” Christie said. “I'm waiting for the locusts and pestilence next.”

Christie first met with first responders and volunteers for Hurricane Sandy before he stepped to the podium and addressed the media.

"We're all working hard together to build up dunes in advance of the Nor'easter," said Christie. "It's expected to arrive with heavy winds and rains as we go further into the day through tonight and into tomorrow morning. DEP has provided outreach to coastal towns, encouraging them to move sand back onto their beaches and take steps that could provide protection against storm surges just like you're going to see here later today."

Reservoir levels, stream and river flows in New Jersey are currently at normal or below normal levels, meaning they won't pose a flooding threat, according to Christie.

"We're not really worried about inland flooding," said Christie.

The national guard is already at work and preparing forces for possible rescue, evacuation and sheltering operations.

"The national guard is already assisting civil authorities by providing 24 soldiers for an American Red Cross shelter operation at Brick Memorial High School where the mayor is ordering an evacuation," said Christie.

Both the National Guard and the Red Cross are providing shelters, clean water, tents and warm meals for those forced to evacuate.

"We're doing what we need to do to get ready for this just like we did with Hurricane Sandy," said Christie. "We're prepared." 

Residents are being warned however that officials don't know what exactly to expect from the storm.

"I stopped people from coming back to Long Beach Island in consultation with the elected officials here for the next day or so because of this Nor'easter," said Christie. "We don't know exactly what it's going to bring. While we're moving quickly to increase the dunes, we don't know how well they'll hold and we don't know what kind of flooding we'll be dealing with potentially. I understand that elected officials and even more importantly the residents are anxious to get back here. I empathize with that. They have my word that after this storm passes tomorrow, we will sit down and before the end of the week, determine an orderly plan to return people to Long Beach Island. We'll do it in a way that will hopefully minimize the traffic and frustration for folks coming in." 

Christie then spoke on the continued post-Sandy recovery effort while acknowleding that the work is far from over.

"We are now down to 369,000 households without power," said Christie. "That's from our peak of 2.76 million a week ago today. We've now restored 2.4 million households to power in a week. Restoring 2.4 million households doesn't mean a damn thing to you unless you're one of the 2.4 million," said Christie. "If you're in the 369,000, you're angry and you want your power back immediately. I understand that. They're making steady progress but it's likely we may see this progress impeded in the next 24 hours. If winds exceed 40 mph in any of the places around the state where they're currently working they have to seek shelter."

Christie warned that there could be more power outages and that workers may be forced to take a few steps back in their progress due to the storm.

"In the inland part of the state we're projecting 3 to 6 inches of snow," said Christie. "That's going to be heavy, wet, snow on trees that haven't been knocked down already by the storm and still have leaves on them." 

Officials say they won't really know how bad the damage and flooding will be until the storm passes.

Christie then spoke on the gas situation.

"We're seeing real results as we put the odd, even system in place and since we started using the National Guard and DOD assets to move gasoline from refineries to gas stations more quickly," said Christie. "This has provided shorter lines, shorter wait times, more order and easier access to gasoline. We don't have a gasoline shortage in New Jersey. What we had was a power outage which prevented the refineries and the pipeline from moving the product. It was a power outage that prevented even gas stations that had product from pumping the product because they didn't have power. No one should panic about gasoline. Please respect the odd, even time. I'll make an evaluation this weekend about whether we keep odd, even in place for next week. That'll depend on what happens with this storm."

All state roads are open and all resources are now going to Route 35. Christie also said the main focus is bringing all public transportation back online.

"We've spoken to the White House about this," said Christie. "They told us their number one public transportation priority is restoring power to AMTRAK."

Christie also said they're working hard to get as many children back to school as possible as well as restore clean water to communities. He once again urged Sandy victims to register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

When asked about the estimated amount of time LBI will remain closed, the Governor responded in classic "Christie" fashion.

"No, I can't, because I don't know what's going to happen," said Christie. "Can you give me a crystal ball and tell me is LBI going to flood off the Nor'easter or is it not? Is there going to be significant damage or not? I don't know. But here's what I know. In 24 hours we'll have a much better idea. People have been off the island for this long. Another 24 hours won't be that big of a deal. My expectation is that after the storm passes we will set up an orderly process for re-population of the island. How long that will take? I don't know." 

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