Republican Jack Ciattarelli is stepping up criticism of Gov. Phil Murphy over his response to the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which brought devastating flooding to much of the Garden State.

As he toured flood damage on Monday, Murphy confirmed the death toll remains at 27. Four people are still missing.

New Jersey has the highest death toll in the nation from Ida, more than double that of Louisiana where the storm came ashore as a ferocious Category 4 Hurricane.

In a statement, Ciattarelli suggested some of those who died, might have survived, if Murphy had declared a state of emergency sooner.

"More than two dozen people died, potentially because some of them weren't aware of the seriousness of the approaching storm," Ciattarelli said in his statement.

Murphy was questioned last week about why he did not declare a state of emergency as the storm approached. Murphy bristled at the criticism and said people were given ample time and warnings to prepare.

Speaking on NBC's "The Today Show" on Sept. 3, Murphy said the state "shouted out on unequivocally that tornadoes were likely, and flooding was likely that this was going to be a very significant historic rainstorm."

He then went on to say, "We declared a state of emergency before anybody else in our neighborhood.”

In a news release, Ciattarelli said that was a lie. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe declared an emergency Wednesday morning, before the remnants of Ida hit. Murphy did not issue his emergency declaration until 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

By that time, multiple tornadoes had already hit New Jersey and flooding was a major problem. “What was Governor Murphy and his administration doing during this time?," Ciattarelli asks, "Why did he (Murphy) wait another 13 hours after Pennsylvania acted to declare a state of emergency in New Jersey?"

What was Governor Murphy and his administration doing during this time? Why did he wait another 13 hours after Pennsylvania acted to declare a state of emergency in New Jersey? More than two dozen people died, potentially because some of them weren’t aware of the seriousness of the approaching storm. It is incumbent upon the legislature to investigate what happened behind the scenes and why Governor Murphy was so slow to act. - Jack Ciattarelli, Republican candidate for Governor

Ciattarelli has asked for legislative hearings to look into Murphy's response to the storm. Legislative leadership has not yet responded.

Murphy said last week his staff will do a post-mortem on how they handled the storm, and will use lessons learned to improve responses in the future.

Incredible, heartbreaking images of Ida's damage in New Jersey

In just a few hours the remnants from Ida spawned three tornadoes, dropped between 8 and 10 inches of rain, left over two dozen people dead and plunged thousands into darkness.

The best outdoor beer gardens at NJ breweries

There are more options than ever for enjoying a Garden State crafted beer in an outdoor setting.

New Jersey tied for first place (with Kentucky) with 43% growth in the craft beer scene from 2015 to 2019, according to C+R Research.

The following is a roundup of breweries around the state with scenic, dedicated outdoor seating as weather allows.


25 True Crime Locations: What Do They Look Like Today?

Below, find out where 25 of the most infamous crimes in history took place — and what the locations are used for today. (If they've been left standing.)