Governor Christie: "Thank You" to the Volunteers from Hurricane Irene
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Uploaded on Oct 26, 2011
New Jersey State Volunteer Recognition Ceremony
War Memorial, Trenton; 10-26-2011
"Listen, you know, let's start there. I was just pissed, you know? I was upstairs for those fourteen hour days at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC), and I'm watching TV and there's a guy from CNN standing on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park and ten hours earlier I told everybody to get off the islands, get back to safer ground. I said it really nicely---- it is in your best interest to move to a safer place during this very dangerous time. And then I watched this guy from CNN standing on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park. He didn't bother me too much but behind him there were people building sand castles. There was a guy putting sunscreen on his wife or girlfriend, and there was another guy that grabbed his surfboard and running out to the water. I said, who are these idiots, and I said OK, time for a press conference, and I went down there and I just figured I had to take a much more Jersey approach to the problem.
So I want to thank you all for being here. It's been about two months since we were in the grips of Hurricane Irene, and it's a historic storm, a hundred year storm, in terms of especially the flooding that it brought to our state, and one of the things that was most astonishing to me in dealing with this incredibly serious natural disaster for our state, was the thousands and thousands of volunteers who stepped up in incredible ways across the state to be a part of a team to help protect first and foremost our people and then our property and finally our psyche, that during times like this it is so easy to become despondent, and so many people that I met during that time had become despondent, but the thing that helped to raise them out of despondency was not me. It was their neighbors and their friends who were there for them, who came to help them start to clean out their houses, who invited them to their home for dinner, who said let me take your children and take care of them while you're dealing with things at home. Those simple but powerful acts of friendship are what helped to lift many folks out of that state of despondency.
State and national service organizations activated volunteers also both inside the state and from all across the country as the Lieutenant Governor mentioned before, and it seemed to me in the aftermath of this, after the first week or ten days after the storm hit I did not want all of that goodness to go unthanked. People say that the activity that we participated in is a thankless job. I don't believe that's true. I'm sure that many of you out here got many thank you's from people in your communities for the things that you did.
But it did seem to me that we need to make sure in case you hadn't that it wasn't a thankless job, that, we, myself, the Lieutenant Governor, the Colonel of the State Police, the Major General of the New Jersey National Guard and all the members of my Cabinet who participated are sitting here in the front row and our main liaison for FEMA who is here as well, that all of us have an opportunity to say thank you. This is one of those ideas that seems really good to me when I think about it and then I tell my staff, and they looked completely horrified about how they were going to pull all this together in the short period of time that I gave them to do it. So let me also thank the staff of the Governor's Office who did an extraordinary job in putting this ceremony together.
Because of what all of you did, thousands of people were sheltered, fed, until they could return home, and it was no small accomplishment. Think about some of these statistics. Nearly 1.5 million people were evacuated in an orderly process from our shore's barrier islands. Now imagine that with almost no mention in the media at all about traffic, about accidents, about arguments, about mayhem, people orderly and quickly evacuated themselves, nearly 1 ½ million people, both New Jersey residents and people from out-of-state who were here on vacation from the barrier islands after my subtle and calm request. We sheltered about 25,000 people during that period of time. We had shelters set up across the state of New Jersey, those folks who were kept warm and dry and fed until they could return home. Twenty-six Red Cross and Salvation Army mobile feeding units were dispatched throughout the state distributing about 420,000 meals and 3,000 gallons of water. More than 10,000 physical and mental health service consultations were provided by disaster recovery consultants to those who had been injured either physically or psychologically. About 21,000 cleanup kits were passed out throughout the state, nearly 5,000 comfort kits for those who had lost all those things of what you need to keep yourself clean and dry and comfortable..."
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