New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addressed criticism over his response to this weekend's record flooding at the Jersey Shore.
The Republican presidential candidate returned to the campaign trail in New Hampshire Monday after spending time in New Jersey during the weekend’s blizzard, which flooded streets and homes in several Shore communities and left thousands without power.
During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire Monday, Christie took a question from a woman who said she once attended school in Pennington, New Jersey. The woman asked on behalf of her family and friends at the Shore, "Why are you here in New Hampshire campaigning instead of there, helping to survey the damages done by the coastal flooding from the storm?"
"Because it’s already done," Christie replied. "It’s already done. Tell me why you think it isn’t."
The woman told Christie her friends and family had sent her videos and pictures of flooding "all over the state."
"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?"
Christie told the woman that all roads in New Jersey were cleared, NJ Transit returned to normal operations and that workers helped any families who had flooding in their homes.
"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."
He asked the woman for the names and numbers of all her family and friends in New Jersey, claiming he would call them all personally to answer any of their questions.
Christie claimed around 94,000 people at the Shore were without power at the height of the storm but the number was reduced to 500 Monday. He went into detail on the efforts taken by the Department of Environmental Protection to assess beach erosion, as well as officials with the Economic Development Authority who were helping any businesses that sustained damage.
The governor said he was told by Department of Transportation officials that there was no residual flooding and all the floodwater had receded back.
"So for your friends and family who are concerned about why I’m not there, I’m just wondering what it is they think I’d be doing today," Christie said. "I’m the governor. I’m not the chief engineer. I run a government of 60,000 people. They know exactly what they need to do. I was on the phone with them six different times today to check on what’s going on. If I was there, there’d be certain folks who would be complaining about what I was doing, or not doing, based upon whatever their political position is."
Christie said he was in New Jersey during the height of the storm checking on conditions throughout the entire state.
"By the way, you know what the National Weather Service called the flooding?" Christie asked. “"Moderate. Except you’re watching CNN and they’ve got nothing else to show. Because plowing snow is pretty boring. So when you see water flowing in with little icebergs on them, you say, 'Oh, look at that.' It’s not good. But I heard people actually compare it to Sandy."
Christie then addressed North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello, who told NBC10 that Saturday morning’s flooding was half a foot higher than what his town experienced during superstorm Sandy in 2012.
"I heard one crazy mayor down in South Jersey say this is worse flooding than Sandy," Christie said. “Here’s the one thing you need to know about that mayor. His town didn’t get hit by Sandy. So of course it’s worse than Sandy for him! He’s down in North Wildwood, which is south of Atlantic City, for those of you who do not have a masters in New Jersey geography as I do. He’s south of Atlantic City, the storm comes in on Atlantic City and the hurricane tail is whipping north. So if you’re south of where it came on Shore, you’re in good shape. So he makes the incredible statement, 'It’s worse than Sandy!' Well damn, man, you didn’t get any flooding in Sandy! So if you got a foot of flooding, it would be worse than Sandy."
He also responded to critics of his handling of the storm during an appearance on MSNBC Monday, according to NBC News.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, New Jersey congressman Frank LoBiondo and West Wildwood Mayor Chris Fox plan on touring West Wildwood, Sea Isle City, and Atlantic City on Tuesday to inspect any storm damage.
Rosenello responded to Christie's comments Monday night.
"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," Rosenello said.