President Obama tours Sandy ravaged areas - New York News

Superstorm Sandy

Obama tours NYC areas hit by Sandy

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President Barack Obama got his first look Thursday at the devastation that Superstorm Sandy waged on New York City, with a helicopter tour above flood-ravaged and burned-out sections of Queens and Staten Island.

Two and a half weeks after the massive East Coast storm displaced New Yorkers and still has left thousands without power, Obama made an aerial tour that included the Breezy Point community where roughly 100 homes were burned in a massive fire. Below Marine One, blue tarps covered some homes instead of roofs and debris was scattered across neighborhoods still drying out after the storm.

"We're reminded that we are bound together and we have to look out for each other," Obama said from Staten Island, where he met with residents coping with destroyed and damaged homes.

The president met with a couple, Glenda and Damien Moore, whose young sons were washed away in the storm surge.

"I expressed to them as a father, as a parent, my heartbreak over what they went through," the president said.

He praised a police official, Lt. Kevin Gallagher, for going above and beyond his job description by staying with that couple until their boys' bodies were found. "The Moores, even in their grief, asked me to mention Lt. Gallagher, and that says something about them as well," Obama said.

Obama also announced that Housing and Urban Development Sectretary Shaun Donovan will be his administration's point person for long-term redevelopment in the area.

"And he's going to be working with the mayor, the governor, the borough presidents, the county officials to make sure that we come up with a strong, effective plan," Obama said. "And then, I'll be working with the members of Congress to do everything we can to get the resources needed to rebuild.  And I have every confidence that Shaun is going to be doing a great job, and so people should feel some confidence about that."

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Donovan served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Obama was joined on the tour by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, HUD Secretary Donovan, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Michael Grimm, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, and others.

Obama traveled to New Jersey on Oct. 31 to meet with Gov. Chris Christie and view recovery efforts in coastal communities. The president viewed flattened houses, flooded neighborhoods, sand-strewn streets and a still-burning fire along the state's battered coastline. Parts of the New Jersey shore's famed boardwalks were missing.

Obama pledged to those affected by the storm that "we are here for you and we will not forget."

Obama also traveled to Louisiana in early September after the Gulf Coast was hit by Hurricane Isaac.

Thousands of people in the New York region remain without power 2 1/2 weeks after Sandy hit, including customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, just east of New York City, and in parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

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