EWING – In an update before the storm, Gov. Chris Christie told reporters at State Police headquarters that over a million people have left the Jersey Shore area within the last 24 hours.
“You have, in the main, listened to our advice,” said the governor, who thanked New Jersey residents for their cooperation.
Ninety-five percent of Long Beach Island has been evacuated.
“While there has been some minor weakening, decreasing the wind speed by ten or 15 miles an hour is going to make little difference,” said Christie, who arrived at State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC) headquarters this morning at 9 for a briefing by Police Col. Fuentes, and convened a meeting of senior cabinet staff.
Christie said he continues to nurse concerns about Atlantc City, where he has dispatched buses and personnel to talk to about 600 seniors who won’t leave their residences.
“We have had some remaining people who refuse to leave,” said the governor, who urged them to board buses and leave the area. Authorities are concerned because these residents live in high rises.
“If you stay where you are you are placing yourselves in danger,” he added in a direct plea to the Atlantic City residents.
The governor thanked President Barack Obama for federal assistance during the crisis.
1,500 National Guardsmen are deployed throughout the state.
5,300 people have been transported to safe areas.
Christie said a blogosphere rumor about Atlantic City Power Company shutting off the South Jersey power supply is not true. The company will supply power “as long as they are able.”
The governor said he spoke to Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), four times in the last two days. He also convened an intelligence-sharing conference call with all members of the Legislature on the invite list, about half of whom participated. He checked in with Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and received a phone call from Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, (D-34).
“If we can minimize the loss of life, New Jersey will get through this just fine,” said the governor.
Asked about this specific event in the context of a national debate about the role of government, Christie said, “I don’t think anybody disagrees that government has a role. One of the main provisions of government is to protect the safety of its citizens. Protecting citizens is the bedrock of government.”
Christie was on his way to Rutgers University this afternoon to see residents who are housed there temporarily.