WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
On Bordentown Road in the Old Bridge section of Sayreville, N.J., traumatized residents begged Governor Chris Christie to come and view what Sandy had wrought. What he saw was one home after another where the force of Sandy had moved homes off their foundations
As Governor Christie worked an impromptu receiving line in this working-class neighborhood, he heard one harrowing story after another about the storm surge that pinned people in their living rooms or sent their major appliances floating.
Resident Cody Buck said he had been around for Irene but Sandy's mighty surge was something entirely different. He had just finishing remodeling the one story home when Sandy tore away the foundation and turned his backyard into a dangerous patchwork of sinkholes.
"We've been here four years and it has flooded the last three years and every year it gets worse," Buck told Christie.
Christie offered a shoulder to cry on for several residents who threw their arms around him and wept.
"A lot of these people have nothing to go back to, their homes are still saturated. There is no electricity. There's not much they can do," said Barry Eck Sayreville OEM chief.
Christie vowed to help them and said he wanted to come to this Middlesex County community so that he could share what he saw with President Barack Obama when the two of them tour the Jersey Shore on Wednesday.
He heard one complaint after another about past experiences with FEMA, and he said he would relay local frustrations to the president.
Residents also grumbled about that Jersey Central Power and Light had yet to make it to the devastated neighborhood where homes had sustained major damage.
Christie, a regular critic of JCP&L's past performance, urged patience. "Ninety-five percent of JCP&L's customers are without power," Christie said. "I have called the governors in Mississippi and Massachusetts for additional utility workers.”
But amid the destruction, there were light moments of laughter. For instance, when a group of grade school girls asked about Halloween. "Not tonight. It’s Monday now in New Jersey," Christie quipped.