Just How Hard Did Winter Storm Jonas Hit Jersey Shore Communities?

Aaron Fischer | January 26, 2016 | More Issues
While Christie appears to downplay damage, officials in some Shore towns report evacuations and severe flooding

christie jonas
Many people in New Jersey rode out winter storm Jonas relatively unscathed; others were far less fortunate. Emergency crews had to rescue some 60 residents in Wildwood, according to WHYY NewsWorks. Other parts of the Jersey Shore were flooded out. Ice was reported to be floating in the streets of Margate.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that may Shore residents took particular exception to Gov. Chris Christie’s often self-congratulatory statements about his response to the storm.

“When the chips are down, I deliver,” read the headline on one of several press releases issued by the governor’s office starting on Saturday. Ironically, another release, “New Jersey Played it Smart and Safe” was accompanied by a CNN video labeled “Storm Surge Floods New Jersey Coast.”

Christie — who was first reported to be staying in New Hampshire to continue his GOP presidential campaign but then returned to New Jersey as the storm approached, only to rush back to the Granite State on Sunday — was anything but sympathetic about the flooding in Margate and Point Pleasant, downplaying the situation and commenting, “You know we’re always going to have a bit of property damage.”

He then blamed residents who have fought dune replenishment for the situation, “… look at what’s happening in Margate, in Point Pleasant Beach, two places that are fighting hard against the dunes.”

That’s not how residents see it.

“Once the bulkhead gave out across the street,” said Wildwood resident Joe Stella, “it was 8-, 12-foot waves breaking right in here. It was horrible.” Cape May, Stone Harbor, and Ocean City experienced record flooding, much of which originated from the bays rather than the ocean.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) asked the governor yesterday to request that Cape May and Cumberland counties be declared federal disaster areas.

Christie said in a statement, “I also dispatched … the Office of Emergency Management to do Preliminary Damage Assessments to see if we meet the required minimum to apply for Federal Disaster Relief. No declaration of disaster can be made until we determine whether we have reached that damage threshold. That process will take days to complete.”