President Obama surveyed the damage and met with residents in storm-battered neighborhoods of New York City on Thursday. Many locals still have no electricity or heat in these debris-strewn areas; thousands are crowded into makeshift shelters or are bunking with friends or relatives who were lucky to be out of Hurricane Sandy’s path.
“I promised to everybody that we’d be here until the rebuilding is complete,” Obama said, discussing the ongoing clean-up effort from the deadly super storm Sandy, which killed more than 100 people. “They still need heat, power, shelter. There’s a lot of short-term immediate stuff. We’ll stay here until people don’t need us.” Obama announced he planned to assign the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, as the main federal point person in the long-term recovery effort.
The president viewed the scope of the disaster zone aboard a helicopter with state and city officials, flying over the Rockaways, Breezy Point and Coney Island before landing on Staten Island. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Donovan accompanied the president on his tour. Once on the ground, Obama visited with families and staffers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
This marks the president’s second trip to an area devastated by Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into the East Coast more than two weeks ago. Days after the storm, he visited parts of the Jersey Shore with Governor Chris Christie.
Cuomo estimated the storm caused $50 billion in total damage and economic loss, with $33 billion of that in New York State alone.