Gov. Chris Christie apologized to North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello on Tuesday for comments he made during a town hall event in New Hampshire.
During the event, Christie criticized the mayor for his comments comparing damage from Winter Storm Jonas to that of Hurricane Sandy.
“I heard one crazy mayor down in South Jersey say that this is worse flooding than Sandy," Christie said to the crowd. “Here’s the one thing you need to know about that mayor: his town didn’t get hit by [Hurricane] Sandy, so of course it’s worse than Sandy for him.”
Rosenello fired back at Christie, criticizing the governor for a “lack of concern” for residents in Cape May County.
On Tuesday, however, Christie reached out to Rosenello to apologize.
"He called to apologize to me for his comments and I accepted his apology," Rosenello said. "It was a genuine apology."
Rosenello and Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said they were offended by Christie's dismissive attitude about Saturday's storm and its impact to South Jersey. At a campaign event in New Hampshire, a student asked the governor why he was campaigning out of state so soon after the storm.
"I don't know what you expect me to do. You want me to go down there with a mop?" the governor replied.
When accepting the apology, Rosenello also said that he reiterated to the governor that many thought his comments lacked compassion for people in Cape May County.
"I expressed to him that he had been disrespectful and lacking in compassion to first-responders and residents who went through this storm," Rosenello said.
Troiano agreed, saying the state will have to be a partner in the recovery effort in the Wildwoods.
"What kind of comment is that? We had real flooding down here," Troiano said of Christie’s comments. "The arrogance is unbelievable."
While flood damage from Hurricane Sandy was not nearly as bad in Cape May County compared to Ocean County, it was a major storm that forced evacuations of all barrier islands, closed businesses and led to more than 5,000 residential insurance claims and $8 million in lost wages. Cape May County businesses filed more than 1,600 applications for federal disaster assistance to reopen after the 2012 storm.
Christie’s mop comment, however, created more angst with some residents in Cape May County. Scott Chambers, the owner of Zippy’s Bikes located at 3900 Pacific Ave. in Wildwood, placed a mop outside of his shop with a box of donuts and a sign that read “Reserved Parking for Gov. Christie.”
“He likes making jokes, so he can take a joke,” Chambers said, noting that his warehouse received up to two feet of water during the storm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., was asked about the controversy during his visit Tuesday to West Wildwood.
"This is the silly season of cheap shots. You won't see any coming from me when people are suffering," Booker said.