Christie Says NJ Losses "Almost Incalculable"

New Jersey mayor gives update on state's recovery from Hurricane Sandy

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - OCTOBER 30: A street sign stands near apartment buildings which flooded and destroyed large sections of an old boardwalk, on October 30, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm has claimed at least 16 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding accross much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a man never known to mince his words, described the devastation in his state caused by Hurricane Sandy as "some of the worst we've ever seen."

    Parts of Jersey may have been hit hardest when Sandy battered the East Coast, as the deadly storm -- whose center came ashore near Atlantic City -- left more than 2.3 million people in the state without power and submerged portions of some shore towns.

    Christie called what was left behind by Sandy a "major disaster" during an interview Tuesday morning on the "TODAY Show."

    "I think the losses are going to be almost incalculable," Christie told Matt Lauer.

    Atlantic City was cut off from the mainland by the storm surge along with other barrier islands, stranding residents who ignored warnings to evacuate. Hundreds of people were being evacuated after a levee broke in the northern New Jersey town of Moonachie. At least three deaths were reported.

    On Twitter, Christie said, "The surge was so strong we have rail cars on the Jersey Turnpike this morning."

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    Christie said on "TODAY" that search and rescue crews were already out Tuesday morning trying to help those missing or in need. He said that he talked with President Barack Obama several times, including once at about midnight as the storm was still pushing through the state. He also talked with FEMA at about 2 a.m. to answer their questions about how that agency can help.

    "The president has been outstanding on this," Christie said.

    Christie, however, did not have many kind words for Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford. The governor blasted Langford Monday night for opening shelters in the city instead of telling his residents that they must leave. Christie said that "a large number of people" were trapped on the barrier island, and would not be able to be rescued until 7 a.m. Tuesday.

    "For whatever reason, Mayor Langford urged people to stay at shelters in the city," Christie said. "You've got people staying, either self-sheltering in their homes or sheltering in city shelters, one of which is a block away from the bay, in a school, which is now flooded completely. At this juncture, there is no way for us to get to them."

    Lorenzo did urge residents of Atlantic City to evacuate, but he also opened shelters throughout the city for those that refused.

    “We want our residents to take every precaution to get out to town if they can,” Langford said on Sunday, according The Philadelphia Inquirer. “If they can’t or won’t, then at least go to a shelter.”

    Christie didn't back down during his Tuesday interview with "TODAY."

    "I feel badly for the folks in Atlantic City who listened to him and sheltered in Atlantic City," Christie said.

    "I feel badly for them that they got mixed messages," he later added.

    Christie and Lorenzo have a history. Christie criticized Lorenzo after Tropical Storm Irene hit the area in August 2011, when some people were stuck on buses for hours. Then, earlier this month, Christie said Lorenzo "failed" the city when talking about the city's high homicide rate.

    Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, wind and flooding from Sandy's surge closed more than 200 bridges and roads. Four people died in the storm, including an 8-year-old boy who was killed when a tree limb fell on him. Power outages in the Keystone state reached 1.2 million.

    The storm snapped trees in and around Philadelphia. Caution tape blocked both streets at one South Philadelphia intersection where splintered trees had landed on top of vehicles.

    Downed trees, power lines and flooding forced a significant number of road closures across the eastern part of the state. PennDOT reopened Interstates 95 and 676 in the city and previously closed stretches of I-76 and 476 on Tuesday morning but reported much work still needed to be done.

    High winds were so bad at one point PennDOT pulled its crews off the roads for a time for safety reasons, spokesman Charles Metzger said Tuesday morning.

    "As many trees as we're going after, we had more trees coming around our guys," he said.

    Flooding, a major fear following last year's inundations, proved to be only a minor issue by Tuesday morning.

    The National Weather Service issued small stream and urban flood warnings into Tuesday morning. The Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek were each expected to reach flood stage in the Philadelphia suburbs, but forecasters expected it to remain below its banks in the city.