New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that he personally apologized after calling a New Jersey shore official a “crazy mayor” and forcefully rebutted critics who suggested the state hasn’t done enough to help residents dealing with the aftermath of flooding from this weekend’s storm.
While campaigning in New Hampshire Monday, Christie lashed out at Republican North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello after he said that flooding in his Cape May County town was worse than during Superstorm Sandy. But at a Statehouse news conference Tuesday, Christie said Rosenello is “a longtime friend” and that he got carried away at the town-hall style event.
“I had a night to sleep on it and I didn’t feel good about what I said, so I called him to apologize,” Christie said. “It merited an apology and I gave him one.”
Christie’s comments Monday came in response to a question from a woman asking why he was campaigning instead of staying in New Jersey to oversee the cleanup. Christie laid out what the state had done and then said he had heard “one crazy mayor down in South Jersey say this is worse flooding than Sandy.”
North Wildwood did not get hit by the October 2012 storm, which caused catastrophic damage along the coast and in other areas of the state. “So of course it’s worse than Sandy for him!” Christie said.
When the questioner persisted, Christie said: “I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do. You want me to go down to Cape May with a mop?”
Rosenello said Monday that he was “disappointed that (Christie) would lower himself as much as he did,” noting that he was one of his earliest supporters during both of his runs for governor. Rosenello also said he has met and interacted with Christie and his family numerous times.
“I think he recognizes that he misspoke. And he did,” Rosenello said Tuesday on Coast 98.7 FM, a Cape May-based radio station. “I think he knows he misspoke. We know that he misspoke.”
The mayor said his town’s dune system suffered major damage and was “severely compromised” by the weekend snowstorm. He also said roughly 150 people were safely evacuated from their flooded homes.
Christie said Tuesday his administration did not get any requests for state assistance after reaching out to mayors in Cape May County after the storm came in with record-level storm surges during high tide on Saturday morning.
He said that the state is about two-thirds of the way through a review to determine whether it is eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance. He said that the state has inspected for beach erosion and is assisting businesses and residents affected by flooding.
But Christie pushed back at the notion that the storm was as bad as Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“I gotta tell you, everybody, I went through it — bit by bit and there was not a thing that happened Friday and Saturday that even resembled Sandy,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents in North Wildwood and neighboring towns were still working to clear water-logged carpets, appliances and other items damaged by the flooding.
West Wildwood resident Bob Steffney told The Press of Atlantic City that he saw flooding creep up to his front porch before it receded without getting into his home.
“It was scary. You had piles floating down the street like it was a river,” the 66-year-old Steffney said. “I don’t have flood insurance. I’m retired. I can’t afford it.”
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