I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I'm going to give props to Christie, who did a great job convincing people to take this storm seriously. There was serious damage and substantial flooding in New Jersey, and thanks to his blunt statements, he managed to persuade most of the people in harm's way to evacuate. Reports of damage are still coming in from all over the state, which is why I was surprised by phone calls this morning from friends saying, "No big deal." Really? One of my friends, who lives at the beach, had a tornado touch down near her house. It took out a couple of houses, the roof of an apartment building, and threw high-velocity debris all over the area. None of that has appeared on the news. (Oh, and her local beach was completely washed away.)
Here's Gov. Christie, interviewed by Jake Tapper for This Week With Christiane Amanour:
TAPPER: As we've been telling you, New Jersey is getting hit hard by the storm right now. New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, is monitoring the situation from the Regional Operations Intelligence Center in Ewing, New Jersey. He joins us right now. Governor Christie, thanks for coming onto the show.
CHRISTIE: Thanks for having me, Jake.
TAPPER: So, Governor, the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey shortly before 6:00 this morning. Your state's just beginning to weather the storm. What are the early reports telling you?
CHRISTIE: Early reports are very difficult, Jake. We have over half-a-million people that are now without power. We have 15,000 people in 45 shelters across the state; 250 roads are closed; and we are going to look at a record flooding situation here, both at the shore and inland. And so my message to the people of New Jersey is, the eye of the storm is still over the state. We are far from out of the woods on the storm itself. And I urge people to stay inside their homes. The one report we have this morning of a woman who's missing is someone who went out into their car, drove, got into the water, got out of her car, and was swept away in the water and is still missing. So, please, stay in your homes until the storm has completely left New Jersey. Then we'll be able to get through this together in the aftermath, but I need people to stay at home.
TAPPER: What is your biggest concern right now? What kept you last night?
CHRISTIE: Flooding, Jake, because we had the wettest August on record in parts of New Jersey before this storm. Already, we've had six to eight inches of rain dumped on south Jersey, and the rain is continuing throughout the state. And so what I'm really worried about is flooding at this point and having to evacuate even more people than the 15,000 we've already had to evacuate and shelter. So in the short term, in the next couple of days, my big concern is the inland flooding and the shore flooding and how we're going to deal with folks who maybe have to be evacuated from their homes and need to be sheltered.
TAPPER: Is there anything that the state of New Jersey needs from the federal government that you're not getting?
CHRISTIE: Not at this point, Jake. We have FEMA representatives here at the -- at the Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, been working with us. I'm going to be calling Secretary Napolitano in an hour or two to make a further request of additional needs. But so far, FEMA has been very responsive. I spoke to Secretary Napolitano in the last 24 hours. She's offered to do whatever she needs to do to help us out here in New Jersey. She knows how hard we're going to be hit. So right now, the cooperation between New Jersey and FEMA has been great, and I'm going to be calling Secretary Napolitano shortly to ask for some more help.
TAPPER: I know you were very concerned about the -- at the time, it was 600 seniors in these Atlantic City high rises who were not leaving. What can you tell us about efforts to protect them?
CHRISTIE: Well, our last-ditch efforts that I referenced yesterday afternoon got another 100 or so to leave and to evacuate. So now we're dealing with about 500 seniors who refuse to evacuate. And as soon as it's safe to travel there, I know county OEM, Office of Emergency Management, Atlantic County is already checking on these folks to make sure they're OK. They lost power in a number of the buildings as early as 10 o'clock last night. So the county officials in Atlantic County are going to check on those folks. And as soon as we have some reports, we'll be able to share them with the public.
TAPPER: Why do people not leave their homes at times like this?
CHRISTIE: You know, I think it's a combination of things. You know, Jake, New Jerseyans are especially tough, kind of cynical, hard-edged folks, and they think the "cry wolf" syndrome, you know, it's all over TV, but it's never as bad as they're telling you it will be, that's one of the reasons. Another reason is that people are very scared, they want to protect their property. And thirdly, especially with the elderly, you know, we had one 92-year-old woman say to us yesterday, "I'm 92 years old. If I die, this is where I want to die." And so I think it's a combination of all those things that make people not heed the warnings. But the good news is that we evaluated over a million people from the Jersey shore in 24 hours without incident. And if those people had stayed at the Jersey shore, I think we'd be talking about significant loss of life. And now, hopefully, we're not going to be talking about that.
TAPPER: All right. Governor Chris Christie, thanks for joining us. Stay safe.
CHRISTIE: Jake, thank you very much for having me.