Wildwood biz owner to Christie: Sure, grab a mop
Scott Chambers is still cleaning up.
His Zippy's bike shop on Pacific Avenue in Wildwood didn't take on the heavy flooding damage seen by some of his neighbors — flooding bad enough to cause hundreds of people in South Jersey to evacuate their homes.
But his nearby warehouse was another story.
He had enough warning of this weekend's monster snowstorm to get the new inventory off the ground. But his preowned bikes, his rental bikes, his "vintage stock" of bike parts got submerged in two feet of water. Chambers lost tools, personal items, appliances, he said. Cardboard boxes were saturated. Some of what's salvageable is covered in sludge.
And as he struggled to clean up, he watched news reports quoting Gov. Chris Christie downplaying the flooding damage seen in New Jersey as the governor returned to New Hampshire to continue his struggling presidential campaign.
"I wanted to throw things at my TV when I saw that," Chambers said.
Christie, appearing on CNN early Sunday, was asked whether officials in New Jersey were caught off guard by major flooding seen along the southern New Jersey Shore all day Saturday, and continuing into Sunday. North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello has said the flooding was worse than Sandy for his community.
“Let’s keep this in perspective, Jake (Tapper),” Christie said. “North Wildwood and the Cape May County area was the least flooded area during Hurricane Sandy and had almost no damage in that area of the state. And so to compare it to Hurricane Sandy, you’re not comparing it to what happened in the rest of the state.”
Christie also said Sunday "we have no concerns for flooding the rest of the day today” as residents of several Cape May towns dealt with impassable roads and damage to their buildings.
Christie on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, accused Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein of “making up” stories about criticism for ignoring heavy damage. "I don’t even know what critics you’re talking about," Christie said, "There is no residual damage, there is no residual flooding damage. All of the flooding receded yesterday morning."
And at a campaign appearance in New Hampshire later in the day, he became combative with a woman who said she'd seem pictures of heavy flooding "all over the state" (most flooding was, in fact, limited to South Jersey).
"I don’t know what you expect me to do," Christie said. "Do you want me to go down there with a mop?”
Christie also singled out “one crazy mayor down in South Jersey” — Rosenello, of North Wildwood — say the flooding was worse than Sandy. According to multiple reports Tuesday, Christie has since called Rosenello to apologize.
Speaking Tuesday on the Coast 98.7 FM, Rosenello said Christie also asked him to extend apologies to first responders and North Wildwood residents and business owners. Rosenello told New Jersey 101.5 in a text message Christie extended that apology to his wife and children.
"I think he recognizes that he misspoke. And he did," Rosenello said on the Coast. "I think he knows he misspoke. We know that he misspoke."
"That's nonsense," Chambers said of Christie's earlier comments. "I don't understand if he's using those statements as his platform or what, but I just don't get it. I'm speechless. For him to just continue to bash our residents, an verbally abuse our mayor, we take it personally down here."
Chambers said Wildwood residents "just feel like we're being disrespected and treated like the unwanted stepchild."
"We have residents with major losses, property losses. The businesses are damaged. We're still recovering from Sandy, and we have to deal with this," he said. "Our bike store is open year-round. But there's nobody driving around looking for a bike today."
Monday, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew issued a statement asking Christie to immediately apply to the federal government for a federal disaster relief declaration for Cape May and Cumberland Counties.
Chambers said he just hopes Christie's tone on the flood damage changes — and that it might lead to some support.
"I'm hoping there's some economic help for us. Some much-needed attention for our residents," he said. "Our residents need a roof over their heads. That's the most important thing right now."