Gov. Christie fears loss of life in Atlantic City after the mayor there directed residents to shelters in the city against his wishes - including one that is located in a school one block from the bay. That shelter is now flooded.
Christie, who has long feuded with Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, has called off all evacuation missions in the Atlantic City area due to forecasts that indicate the heart of the storm is coming in the early evening.
"At this juncture there's no other way for us to get them," Christie said at a 5:30 p.m. news conference in Ewing. "They're going to have to ride out the storm there until at least 7 a.m."
He said Langford "didn't want his people leaving Atlantic City" because some people were upset that they were evacuated after Hurricane Irene.
"For those elected officials who decided to ignore my admonition , this is now your responsibility," he said.
"I don't have a feud with him, I just wish he'd do his job," he added later. "No one's saying I'm not doing my job . . . he's been impossible to work with."
Christie also criticized those residents who stayed on the barrier islands, particularly in Atlantic County, where a higher percentage of people defied gubernatorial evacuation orders than elsewhere. His advice "for those of you who can still hear me" is "to get to the highest point possible."
"And now I'm going to have to send emergency personnel in there tomorrow, with live wires all over the place, risking their lives because Mayor Langford was worried that some of those people were angry ?" Christie asked. "That's not leadership everybody."
Newspaper articles from the weekend indicate that Langford encouraged residents to leave the city if they could, but city schools would be opened as a "shelter of last resort" for late evacuees.
The southern part of the Garden State Parkway and parts of the New Jersey Turnpike are closed, Christie said. And 348,000 are without power - including Christie's family in Mendham, Morris County.
Only one death related to the storm has been reported. Christie said there's preliminary information that a woman evacuated from Atlantic City died from a heart attack at a hospital.
At 2:15 p.m. today, President Obama called Christie for a one-on-one conversation. Christie told the president that FEMA was doing an "excellent" job, and Obama gave him a number at the White House to reach him directly.
If there's a problem in New Jersey, Obama "said not worry about anything else, just call him," Christie said.
"I appreciate that kind of leadership and I appreciate the president's phone call. And if we do need something, I got the number and I'll use it."