New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford continued their skirmish over the city’s contingency plans to shelter residents who would not heed the evacuation warnings before Hurricane Sandy.
Langford said the governor was either lying or misinformed, and said he wanted to confront the governor "mano-y-mano." Christie, for his part, said he felt sorry for the city's residents, and rescue crews were on their way in to the resort to save people.
On NBC's Today show Tuesday morning, both men explained the situation to host Matt Lauer:
THE TODAY SHOW
LANGFORD: As devastating as this storm was with respect to property damage, I think the glass is half-full and not half-empty. We’ve experienced a minimal loss of life and injury, and I think for that all of us ought to be thankful and send up a big mighty prayer.
Matt Laurer asked about the Christie’s earlier contention that the city ignored evacuation orders.
LANGFORD: Well, first of all, let me say this, the governor is either misinformed and ill-advised, or simply just deciding to prevaricate. That’s not what happened, and isn’t it sad: Here we are in the throes of a major catastrophe, and the governor has chosen a time such as this to play politics. I think it’s reprehensible that he would stoop to the level to try to make a political situation out of something that is so serious as this situation. Well, here, let me tell …
Laurer asked if the city ignored evacuation orders:
LANGFORD: I’m telling you that it’s absolutely false and the governor needs to be challenged. Those of you with journalistic integrity need to ask the governor what his source is, where did he get that information. He’s dead wrong.
Laurer asked what happened:
LANGFORD: Well, fortunately most of our residents did heed the repeated warnings that they should flee the city. As you know, we are a barrier island and the clarion call did go out from the Governor’s Office to suggest that everybody ought to flee the island, and fortunately most of the residents in the city of Atlantic City heeded that advice. Unfortunately, as there will always be the case, there are always those who will not heed the warning and decide to stay. In life it’s better to have options and not need them than to need options and not have them. So we had a plan in place for those few residents who would decide at the last minute that they would not try to heed our warning and vacate the city but would try to hunker down, tough it out only to find that at some other time they wanted to flee. We had that contingency plan in place.
Laurer invited Langford back to speak to Christie.
LANGFORD: I would love nothing better than that, than to confront the governor mano-a-mano.
Gov. Christie later appeared on the Today show. Laurer asked Christie, among other things, if he still felt Langford was a “rogue mayor” who ignored evacuation orders:
CHRISTIE: Listen, the fact of the matter is, I feel badly for the folks in Atlantic City who listened to him and sheltered in Atlantic City, and I guess my – my anger has turned to sympathy for those folks, and we’re in the midst now of trying to go in and save them. Daylight has come. We’ve got an urban search-and-rescue team with both and 20 state police personnel. We have search-and-rescue teams down there as well. We’re going to try and save the folks. I’m sorry that they received mixed messages. For some reason the mayor gave folks a mixed message. We need to get these people out and safe, and that’s what we’re going to do.