Republican gubernatorial challenger Jack Ciattarelli and his running mate, former State Senator Diane Allen, today said “our residents deserve answers” and called for state legislative hearings into Governor Phil Murphy’s “slow and failed response” to Tropical Storm Ida, which took the lives of 27 New Jerseyans, with several still missing and presumed dead.
The pair offered their condolences to the families who lost loved ones, thanked first responders for their bravery in saving lives, and urged President Biden to expand his disaster declaration into Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Union Counties to help those whose properties were damaged or destroyed.
They also called on Murphy to apologize for falsely claiming on NBC’s TODAY Show that New Jersey “declared a State of Emergency before anybody else in our neighborhood”, saying now isn’t the time for deflecting blame, but rather time for holding people accountable.
“Here are the facts: after Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency had tracked the storm for several days, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency at 9:05 on the morning of Wednesday, September 1 – hours before the storm arrived. That proactive, advanced planning prompted Pennsylvania to mobilize first responders and to close campsites, parks, and roads in advance of the storm. Through his actions, Governor Wolf strongly conveyed a sense of urgency and seriousness that this storm clearly warranted,” said Ciattarelli.
Ciattarelli and Allen pointed to reports that heavy rain had already started falling in South Jersey around 4:00 p.m. and tornado alarms were ringing before 5:00 p.m., yet aside from retweeting the National Weather Service, Governor Murphy held off on an emergency declaration.
Ciattarelli continued: “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.”
“This is not the first time we’ve seen inconsistent and disorganized planning around a storm from this Administration,” said Senator Allen, pointing to 2018, when Governor Murphy was harshly criticized for his failure to properly plan for an incoming winter storm that stranded drivers for hours on the state’s highways. Just a week later he endured widespread criticism for overreacting to weather forecasts by brining roads that were never in danger of freezing.
Allen said the Administration must provide answers to the people of New Jersey about how our state could be so caught off guard by a storm that everyone knew was coming.
“The bottom line is what was he doing during those thirteen hours when he could have moved to save lives and property. What was he thinking?” said Allen. “There must be an investigation.”