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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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AFTER THE VISIT

Why Has New Jersey Been Forsaken?

President Obama declared this area to be a Federal Disaster Area. But where is FEMA? Where are the troops? Where are the gas tankers?
Gov. Christie and President Obama reviewing the damage in NJ.

Gov. Christie and President Obama reviewing the damage in NJ.
Photo Credit: YY

Is there anyone who can tell us what the heck is going on? We in New Jersey have no power, no heat, no lights, in some places little food, and no gas. Yes, I know these are mere inconveniences compared to those who have suffered the unspeakable tragedy of losing family members. At least 50 are dead from Sandy, and those lives are irreplaceable. We mourn their loss. But nothing should excuse New York and New Jersey looking like Armageddon.

Aren’t we the nation that rebuilt Iraq and have done tons of nation-building in Afghanistan? Can’t we put the lights and heat back on New Jersey? Is it asking too much to bring a bunch of fuel tankers here and end the 100 vehicle long lines that are growing larger by the day? Just getting from point A to point B has been like navigating an labyrinth since the gas lines have cut off so many of the streets. President Obama declared this area to be a Federal Disaster Area. But where is FEMA? Where are the troops? Where are the gas tankers?

On the news we see cities that are still underwater. Half of Manhattan has no electricity. Staten Islanders are desperate for food and shelter. Tens of thousands of residents on the Jersey Shore lost everything. But President Obama is back on the campaign trail in Ohio. Because I don’t want to politicize this, I’ll make the same point about Governor Romney. True, he’s the challenger, not the incumbent. But both the President and the Governor need to understand the extent of the catastrophe all around us and do something besides argue about mobs overseas. This is more immediate. President Obama is campaigning with the all the advantages of incumbency. But that entails all the responsibilities as well. And coming for a photo-op with Governor Christie then running back to Ohio ten times is wholly inadequate.

The people of this area deserve better. We’re taxed up the wazoo with the highest state and property taxes in the nation. For all that, we normally get crumbling infrastructure, potholes, and rusty bridges that cost $12 just to cross. To add a dismal and slow response to such a huge natural catastrophe is too much.

In the City of Englewood where I live nearly all the residents have no power. Trees are down everywhere. It would be nice to see the occasional electric crew repairing the wires or the occasional city crew chopping up the trees. It would be nice to hear more from Mayor Frank Huttle, who is running unopposed this Tuesday (yes, that’s what passes for democracy in our city), about when the power and heat will be back on.

Since Tuesday I have driven all over the Ninth District where I’m running for Congress. The police are out in strength, stopping you from going here, preventing you from going there. They’re trying to protect us and I thank them. But where are the relief crews?

Last year at almost precisely this time we had Tropical Storm Irene that became a freak snow storm that downed endless trees and caused huge flooding. We went without power for a week, unfortunately for us, the very week before my daughter’s wedding. Family and friends came from around the world. They sat and shivered for a week, thinking they had entered a third world country. They couldn’t wait to leave.

So it’s not as if we couldn’t see this coming. They promised us last year that it would not happen again. The next time they would be ready. Granted, the devastation this time is far worse. But the response seems far worse as well.

Three of my kids drive every morning from New Jersey to Brooklyn for Chabad yeshiva and seminary. Today, they waited three hours to get on the George Washington Bridge and eventually gave up. They joined with me instead as we drove around the district meeting people and hearing their tales of woe.

Not that we have much of a campaign left. My staff and I have been reduced to charging our phones and laptops on the floors of shopping malls, crowded Starbucks where there is no place to sit, and, especially in the cars. My run for Congress has become completely mobile. In the car we have heat, light, and the occasion cord for a laptop. And truth be told, it’s been great getting out at all out hours just to meet people, so there’s your blessing in disguise.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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94 Responses to “Why Has New Jersey Been Forsaken?”

  1. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Boo hoo, boo hoo, boo hoo. Shmuley, you have me crying again. Boo hoo, boo hoo. The poor Jews of Englewood. And all the poor Jew Haters. Boo hoo, boo hoo, boo hoo.

  2. Larry Brook says:

    Four days after Katrina we drove to Biloxi. They hadn't even barricaded off the main (destroyed) roads, and there was an eerie silence. After taking pictures of the heavily-damaged shul we stopped at a church that had some supplies. When we asked if the government response had been there, they laughed. The next day we made a second relief trip to a small town two hours inland, where nobody had been (pretty much the whole state was still without power). The police chief escorted us to a place where we could unload without getting killed by desperate people (and asked if he could hold some back for his officers, who had nothing). Finally on our way back home we saw a convoy of military vehicles heading south. Sad to say, this piece does not surprise us in the least. Now y'all know what all the fuss was about FEMA etc. after Katrina…

  3. Anonymous says:

    In Ukraine they are finishing counting their vote while opposition is correctly claiming a fraud. The kind and cause of this fraud can be better understood looking on century old case of Sigismund von Unruh.

    While both Israeli and American nations are still before the vote. Sigismund case has again returned to the streets of Brussels , heart of Europe.

    But for Zion at the East things on the street and in governmental cabinets are quite same. We are easily kicked out, when Israel turns hostile trying to commit national suicide. Something that EU shall and must be preventing. Even if our friends are not able to understand this…

    More: http://lnk.ms/dMMbq

  4. Liad Bar-el says:

    Yes, you are absolutely right. More should be done.
    After working in HUD, Washington, D.C. in Emergency Preparedness (before FEMA), we would have set up office within 24 hours, surveyed damages from the air, detailed mobile homes, dropped land lines, sewage/water pipes, detailed the Coast Guard for sea line properties and military police for inland properties along with their engineering and maintenance personnel for all public utilities. This should have been done already for the Electric/gas companies maintenance crews are not able to handle such overloads as natural disasters.
    Motels/hotels that have electricity should be contracted by the government to house victims and public parks could be turned into mobile home parks.
    At HUD, I was working in damage/repair assessments and costs. The price for repairs was of no limit, it seemed, just as long as the job got completed ASAP. What is probably holding up this whole process is assessing damages, contractor biding for repairs and awarding those contracts to those companies to fix the damages. For the 1979 blizzard in Boston, we had contractors come all the way from Texas. These contractors are like ambulance chasers who go where ever there is a presidential declaration of a disaster. All of this takes time. FEMA has rules and regulations to follow regardless of the people wanting it all done NOW. Everyone is required to register as a disaster victim at the office which FEMA designates. Need to find out where that office is soon. First come, first served.
    A relative of mine in N.Y. just picked up and left for Florida until this gets settled out.

  5. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    obama's trip, and Christie's fealty was no more then political opportunism! obama dropped by for a taxpayer funded photo-op and just as quickly headed to vegas (again at our expense) to party away from the crisis (familiar methodology for the fascist in chief). Christie is still pissed that the GOP denied him the second seat! And now he is exacting his revenge. Fully expect that IF obama wins, christie will leave the GOP and join obama as his new "Secretary of Business."

    BOTH are dyed in the wool carpet bagging opportunists.

  6. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    prozac?

  7. Liad Bar-el says:

    Do you have flood insurance or insurance for natural disasters? If so, see if you and your family can check into a motel. I knew people who slept in their cars and campers.
    Go to the camping supply stores and buy supplies for cooking and heating pads that generate heat without electricity. Put the heating pads inside your sleeping bag. Buy cans of tuna in olive oil. Pop the top off without losing the oil inside. Light the oil inside the can with a match and in a couple of minutes, you have a hot meal.

    If all of this is troublesome for you, fly to Israel. I’m sitting here in a T-shirt warm as toast with the ceiling fan on and enjoying the weather of a high of 84.2 F with a low tonight of 68 F. Received lots of sun today to warm up my water in the solar collector. Just finished eating hot corn on the cobb which is in season now and it tasted sweet as sugar. The Holy Land of Israel is really blessed. Come and enjoy it.

  8. Charlie Hall says:

    I filled up today at the Vince Lombardi Service Area, with less than a 15 minute wait. The gas lines I saw in NJ are much shorter than in NYC.

  9. Charlie Hall says:

    The reason I was on the NJ Turnpike was that I was taking a carload of food and water from my synagogue in the Bronx to Staten Island, where they are badly needed. I dropped them off at the district office of State Sen. Andrew Lanza, 3845 Richmond Ave. Do not take clothing — they have more clothing than they can handle. They will be there at least until 5pm today and until things are more back to normal. They need volunteers, too. Much of Staten Island looked totally normal, but the devastation along the shore was horrific.

  10. The solution is to bury powerlines.When faced with similar challenges, industry — often with government oversight — has acted to secure public safety and health. When necessary, we have helped foot the bill via surcharges or usage fees, like those we pay for airport security and bridge repairs.

  11. Joyce Sutton Stutzman says:

    who turned away the NON Union utility crews? talk to your gov.

  12. Susan Melnik says:

    This was up for much debate ..I saw many arguments on this yesterday..Gov.Christie did a press conference and answered the question here is an article and answer he gave..pretty much it is he said she said..http://www.theblaze.com/stories/who-is-telling-the-truth-nj-utility-says-it-didnt-block-non-union-help-alabama-utility-contradicts-their-statement/

  13. Joyce Sutton Stutzman says:

    Well, I also saw a video where Christie blasted Obama after the two met when Obama stopped by in NJ…maybe a repercussion from that is why the people don't have the help they need?? Don't get me wrong….the people need help and neither politician should be playing games with peoples lives if that is the reason. I hope the people get what they deserve, help!

  14. Why are all the REPUBLICANS in New Jersey , who Elected a Republican Governor, Who are So Much for INDIVIDUALISM and STATE's RIGHTS looking to The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT For HELP? ROMNEY wanted to KILL FEMA Before "SANDY", and was Still Saying AFTER "SANDY" that LOCAL PROVIDERS are Best SUITED to Handle the DISASTER. Make Up Your Mind. Do you Want COMMUNITY or INDIVIDUALISM? Scratch a DEMOCRAT and you will Find a Former Republican that faced a Disaster and REALIZED HOW MUCH THEY NEEDED A STRONG FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

  15. Edward Lobel says:

    Arie, your foolishness is showing through again! You need to think about the diarrhea that comes flowing out of your mouth.
    You are still using the term fascist wrong. President Obama is not a fascist, a socialist or a communist. People in Israel are a lot closer to socialists that President Obama (ever hear the word kibbutz?)

    Do you know what a carpetbagger is? Know where the term comes from? based on what you say you have no idea, which just continues the fact that you NEVER have any real knowledge of what you say. You are the type of Jew that causes people to hate Jews, so if you are as smart as you think you are, you may want to stop saying stupid things!

  16. Edward Lobel says:

    I used to think that the holy land (Israel) was truly blessed then I started reading the terrible things people say in this newspaper!

    FYI – Only the government offers flood insurance and you have to live in specified flood zones. I can only guess that certain areas of New Jersey and New York are designated flood areas and then people have to decide to buy it. Not too many do. The cost of the insurance is minimal.

    Anyway, your idea of "soaking up the rays" in the homeland is indeed very appealing!

  17. Edward Lobel says:

    Rabbi Shmuley, it is all your fault! The big boss is very unhappy that you are running for congress and not telling people the truth!
    You cannot be real when you say it's 4 days and FEMA is not yet there!
    First that's not true! Water is getting thru, generators are being flown in, Heavy machineray is there and tons more are on the way.
    If you really cared, you would call up all your good friends like eric cantor and have him send money and help. HE WILL NOT SEND A SINGLE PENNY AND IS ALREADY TRYING TO BLOCK MONEY GOING TO FEMA FOR NEW JERSEY!
    Call you good freind donald trump and ask him to open his hotels and let the people whose homes were flooded out so they have a place to say. Call your good friend shelly adelson and ask him to open his hotels and give shelter to the people flooded out. Call your good freinds the koch brothers and ask them to send heavy equipment to help. They own tons and tons of heavey equipment. Also call your good friend willard and ask him to send help. Ask him to make a donation and watch him say "I already give millions to charity" he would be correct, but he only gives money to mormon charities (check out his tax returns and see that 99.9% of what he donates goes to the mormon churh!)
    I see you trung to blame the government for failure to help but I do not see a single repub or tea party person helping (except chris chistey).
    That is why g-d is not happy with you and I think you are to blame for all the things you are playing politics with instead of trying to help!

  18. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    I am curious eddie. Can you respond directly or is your obamaism always at the forefron with venal attacks. You sound like obama did in his call for "revenge" and his sidekick jarrett's threat that "there will be payback.

    That said:
    Permit me to respond. obama is the VERY definition of a carpetbagger:

    car·pet·bag·ger
    [kahr-pit-bag-er] Show IPA
    noun
    any opportunistic or exploitive outsider: especially so as to profiteer from the unsettled social and political conditions

    I've lived on a kibbutz and didn't, like you, read an abridged unverified article in wikipedia about it. The VAST majority of Israelis do NOT live on kibbutzim, they live in cities and have JOBS (something obviously unknown to you) which indicates CLEARLY that you have NO idea about life in Israel. Israelis are unabashed capitalists. And even on the socialist kibbutzim that you wish to identify with all of Israel – as ignorant as your comparison is – there is what you and obama have no knowledge of: TRUE DEMOCRATIC VALUES and freedom where EVERY member has an equal say – a concept anathema to obama and obviously to you. obama's form of socialism is more in line with N Korea and stalinist russia.

    obama IS a FASCIST. His every demand, comment and threat proves it – including his most recent call for revenge and jarrett's threats against that would dare vote against him.

    fas·cism
    [fash-iz-uhm] Show IPA
    noun

    ( sometimes initial capital letter ) a governmental system led by a dictator (obama) having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

    No knowledge? By YOUR own comments you admit you know nothing of Judaism, Israel, Kibbutzim, or for that matter reality. I cause Jew hatred? I take that as seriously as I take you alleging you are Jewish or that obama has any caring for Jews other then his wanting to switch on the ovens for us.

    To sum it up, I've read your FB page eddie. It's like an altar to socialism, obama, and demonization of all people that WORK for a living!

    May I suggest before you post and prove yourself to be the ignor-anus hallal kool aid slurper that you are – READ UP about what you are posting. Your stupidity must really be an embarrassment to your kids although that IS what the demoslamists look for in a supporter

    Come back when you get an education and grow up

  19. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    By the way eddie, we can presume you are voting for "revenge" (as obama declared) and to keep from being a "payback" victim (as jarrett put it) or being a "pink person murdered" (as obama's poll watchers in the Black Panther party put it). That's the way the kapos of the 30's germany acted also

  20. Charlotta Jones says:

    You are a crazy meshuggenah.For someone so religious as you profess to be (yes I have read your stuff on various website, yes I am Jewish), YOU ARE A DISGRACE. You must be mentally ill.You have NO COMPASSION.

  21. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    Really eddie…you now speak for the "big boss?" OOPS I forget – you believe obama is a "g-d." As for FEMA, NO they are not here! But no surprise. And what would obama know or care? He spent millions of OUR taxpayer funds (I know you are not familiar with the concept of paying 'taxes' you just take what we pay) for a quick 2-hour photo op and then off to parties in Vegas and yet another Jay-Z lap dance. The ONLY heavy machinery here is that which has already been here as part of our utilities. We would have help from Alabama, but thanks to the IBEW that won't happen. But all that aside. You are yet again on your communist instigated rant! The taxes WE pay required a quick FEMA response – thanks to obama that never will happen! And is it your business where he donates his money? Pissed he hasn't sent you a check like obama forces the taxpayers to? You sure are concerned how he spends his money. Yet, you don't mind obama giving all his cronies over ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS in bogus "green energy loans" that they then declare bankruptcy over and then pocket. Like the $750MILLION "loan" he gave to pelosi and her brother. Tea Party members not helping? Perhaps the TP Members are more concerned with actually helping then getting publicity for making pretend they are helping like your "g-d." OH, and by the way, I notice that Staten Island – which tends to vote Republican and is the hardest hit – has been all but abandoned by your fascist in chief. Your comments are predictable. We listen to whatever your massa obama (oooops did I forget to refer to him as "g-d?") and we can fully expect you to parrot his remarks.

    Now, before you post again and embarrass your family and yourself with your ignorance, get an education, READ, and grow up. Your kids are mortified by your comments.

  22. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    At least you have a sense of humor. By the way, Republicans and Independents pay TAXES (you may remember those) part of which is supposed to go for situations like these. Instead obama sends the monies we pay to his cronies in the form of supposed "green energy loans" (over $100BILLION at last count) never to be seen again. That said, no commentary from the Democratic senators from BOTH NY and NJ; and the mostly Democratic congressman are nowhere to be found. OH, I forget – the Junior senator from NJ is too busy using a TAXPAYER FUNDED junket to the Caribbean to hire hookers to really give a damn. But not surprising that a lawyer would support the demoslamists after all you have paid them to support you

  23. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    The non-union crew were turned away by a combination of Christie's ineptitude and the IBEW demands.

  24. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    eddy – proof that Jew hatred comes in all sexes and locations (in the US mainly in Michiganstan) but mostly amongst obama lemmings who believe obama is -as NBC put it "a higher person, practically a g-d" which is what eddie believes. Like soros, eddie despises the Jewish people and by extension the Jewish State. We Jews do appreciate his posts though. It is always good to know what our enemies are thinking and wish.

  25. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    Hey Eddie – I AM curious. How pissed off are you that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Kink, Jr was a Republican? Must really send you into a tither!

  26. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    Hey Eddie – I AM curious. How pissed off are you that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Kink, Jr was a Republican? Must really send you into a tither!

  27. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    Hey Eddie – I AM curious. How pissed off are you that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Kink, Jr was a Republican? Must really send you into a tither!

  28. Sid Klein says:

    Shmuley…it is irresponsible to make claims that are falsehoods. Try the truth.

  29. Liad Bar-el says:

    Charlie, Kol HaKavod. One good deeds deserves another; so, I am giving you a warning for your own good. Some time ago you mentioned that you are married to an Arab. You should be careful for your own safety to not mention on a national forum that you support Jewish synagogues because your wife's Imam might force her to do something against you. You need to keep a low profile.

  30. Charlie Hall says:

    " Some time ago you mentioned that you are married to an Arab."

    I don't know where you heard that; my wife is a Jew, just like me.

  31. Edward Lobel says:

    arie, it seems you have me wrong, I am a capitalist, not a fascist like you! I tell the truth, not lie like you and willard!

  32. Edward Lobel says:

    Arie Rosenrauch So was Abraham Lincoln a republican! so was Teddy Roosevelt! All among the greatest Americans there ever were. You do know that the "Party of Lincoln" the republican party was for a very strong central government and he did free the slaves. Today's party of Lincoln is not the same party that Lincoln started. They are for a weak central government and for bringing back slavery! The current republican party plays toward weak minded people like you!

  33. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    Today, obama ordered ONE HUNDRED military personnel and TWO helicopters in to aid ravaged Staten Island. And it only took him him one week to do so. Well, he did have his priorities – like getting a Jay-Z lap dance in Vegas and partying with Stevie Wonder (a whole 200 people attended that one). So you can understand why it took this long – a President like obama must adhere to priorities. Isn't that why four Americans in Benghazi are now dead?

  34. Edward Lobel says:

    NOT ONLY ARE YOUN A IGNORANT ASSH##E YOU ARE DOWN RIGHT RUDE AND NASTY. IT IS JEWS LIKE YOU WHO CAUSE PEOLE TO HATE JEWS AND FOR THIS REASON NOT ONLY AM I UPSET OVER YOU, G-D IS PREETY UPSET WITH YOUR RUDENESS AND LUNACY. HE KNOWS YOUR PARENTS DID NOT TEACH YOU SUCH HATRED. WHEN HE SEES YOU SOON HE WILL LET YOU KNOW JUST HOW UPSET HE IS WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

  35. Edward Lobel says:

    Sid, he has learned from willard and lyin ryan that lying works!

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