TODAY | November 17, 2012
>>> new jersey governor chris christie is considered a star in the republican party . well now his wife is stepping into the spotlight to help people in her state deal with the aftermath of hurricane sandy. "today" contributing correspondent jenna bush hager recently caught up with her.
>> reporter: more than two weeks ago when sandy hit, the coast of new jersey was forever changed . although the state's first lady mary pat christie has stayed out of the spotlight, the devastation of sandy is personal.
>> our town in particular was devastated as well.
>> reporter: and has changed her role.
>> you really want to focus on the people. i think that we're all kind of inspired by my husband.
>> we're on the road to recovery.
>> and we all kind of are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
>> reporter: together the christies are spearheading the relief fund, a foundation focused on rebuilding the state they love.
>> our goal is really to be there for the long term, and this takes a long time, but i think their spirits need that kind of support.
>> reporter: here in seabright, new jersey, a community washed away by the storm, conner and karen tressa come back to assess the damages of their family-run pizzaria. overwhelmed by the destruction, a comforting embrace. it's empathy that's not hard to comeby. even the governor's family lost power.
>> i think like most new jersians, we probably played more games than we know what to do with. catch phrase became a highlight of our day. but i think that we really were just thinking about the people that were suffering so much more than us.
>> reporter: has it been hard to watch your husband go through, and watching your state be affected the way that this has?
>> it definitely has been. i think that after the 16, 18-hour days and my husband comes home, not only is he exhausted physically, but it definitely is mentally draining, to come and hug people who have lost their life savings and their world really.
>> reporter: if the storm of the century had a starring character, it would be the new jersey governor. you've obviously known your husband for a long time. 26 years, you've been married. but has the way he's led surprised you at all through this?
>> not really, because i've seen him manage situations before that are challenging. he kind of gets a group of people around the table and is very good at listening, but then quickly deciding and delegating.
>> reporter: is it hard to be back at a place where you brought your kids? i mean, you have such family memories?
>> oh, sure. i think people saw the governor at casino pier .
>> i was on that ride with bridget in august.
>> casino pier that was our big night out with the children. my children are small, but that's their childhood.
>> reporter: a doting wife, mother of four and working woman, still finding time to visit the frontlines, providing comfort and long-term support for the citizens she loves.
>> we will rebuild. bigger and stronger.
>> reporter: for "today," jenna bush hager , seabright, new jersey.