By David Cruz
On the second anniversary of the devastating storm, Gov. Chris Christie began a day-long tour of the state in Little Ferry, in the neighborhood where Frank and Debi Smith’s home was almost completely renovated with the help of volunteers from Rebuilding Together Bergen County. With a throng of reporters in tow, the governor emerged to thank volunteers and share his thoughts on the storm that has defined his tenure.
“I’m sure there are decisions that I would’ve made differently if I look back on every one of them but in this regard I’ve made so many decisions over the last two years, I don’t sit around and second guess myself too much after the fact,” he said. “When we see something that needs to be fixed, we go and we fix it, but we haven’t been perfect, never said we would be. They don’t teach you this in new governor’s school, you know.”
By now the sight of this governor sharing hugs and empathy with victims and rescue workers has become very familiar. Two years removed, New Jersey residents are starting to look more favorably on the governor’s post-Sandy performance. A poll this week from Monmouth University and the Asbury Park Press finds that 54 percent of New Jersey residents are satisfied with the state’s Sandy recovery effort, with 35 percent saying — not so much. Back in April the numbers were 48 percent satisfied to 43 percent dissatisfied.
“I acknowledged some of the shortcomings that have happened over two years but I also know that there have been a lot of really wonderful things that have happened over the last two years and a lot of great stories,” added Christie.
Frank Smith spent two days rescuing his neighbors in Little Ferry, Carlstadt and Moonachie after a levee failed and flooded the towns with up to five feet of water. His wife, Debi, calls him an amazing man.
“He was rescuing people. He was helping people,” she remembered. “He was in and out. We didn’t see much of him. He got us situated and he was gone.”
Christie knows the good and the bad of Sandy will follow him through a presidential campaign, and by embracing it so assertively, he affects how voters will remember it, even those who remain frustrated.
The governor said he understood the frustration, but added, by comparison, that in Biloxi, Mississippi, it took eight years to get everybody back into their homes. We’re making progress, he said, but we’ve still got a ways to go.