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Gov. Christie: Obama deserves "great credit" for storm response

(CBS News) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke to "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J. and wreaked havoc statewide.

"The state of New Jersey took it in the neck worse than any other state," Christie said of the storm's effects. "It's going to take us a while to dig out from under it, but we will dig out from under it," he added.

Christie called the level of cooperation between the local, state and federal governments "excellent" and praised President Obama's involvement. "I was on the phone for the third time yesterday, last night, with the president of the United States. He called me at midnight last night as he was seeing reports," he said before adding that President Obama accelerated the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area "without the usual red tape." 

"The cooperation has been great with FEMA here on the ground and the cooperation from the president of the United States has been outstanding. He deserves great credit," Christie added.

Coastal flooding trapped residents and damaged homes and businesses in southern New Jersey and flooding and power loss impacted the entire state. The city of Newark, was left entirely without power according to Christie, who said the storm was much worse than Hurricane Irene in 2011. 

The governor hopes that winds will subside by Tuesday afternoon to allow him to assess the damage to the shore and northern part of the state by helicopter.

Christie also addressed the criticism he unleashed on Atlantic City mayor Lorenzo Langford on Monday, saying that he stood by his comments that the mayor jeopardized the lives of Atlantic City residents by sending mixed messages about evacuation.

According to Christie, "the mayor told folks they could shelter in city shelters as a last resort" even after the governor's office sent 75 New Jersey transit buses to take residents out of the city. "We knew this was a real potential problem and I always err on the side of saving lives," Christie explained. He added that both he and the mayor knew the storm was tracking to land "very close to Atlantic City with unprecedented power" and said, "I don't know why he did what he did."

While Christie remains upset about the mayor's actions, he said he is more concerned for the residents trapped in Atlantic City and hopes that the more than a dozen urban search and rescue teams across his state will help alleviate the situation there.

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