Hurricane Sandy response: Officials get good marks, so far
Amid the damage caused by hurricane Sandy, local, state, and federal officials are at this early stage largely united in the opinion that everyone did everything they could.
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As recovery efforts ramp up regionwide, the federal role will become more important. For instance, Obama has signed declarations opening the way for FEMA relief in states from Rhode Island to Virginia. FEMA assistance after the storm will include funds to help with debris removal, grants to affected families for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. Other aid programs managed by the agency aim to help business owners recover.Skip to next paragraph
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Meanwhile, National Guard troops were called up or placed on alert from Florida to Maine, as governors moved to help their residents or to offer aid to neighboring states. The West Virginia National Guard had teams in eight counties to help local authorities amid Sandy-related snowstorms.
One of the storm's most dramatic rescue efforts was at sea off the North Carolina coast, where Coast Guard helicopters saved 14 crew members of the Bounty, the sailing ship once used in a Hollywood movie.
Floodwater rescues were common in New Jersey and New York, which took the brunt of the storm. In Hoboken, N.J., many residents faced standing water outside their doorsteps, with Mayor Dawn Zimmer warning residents that the potential for submerged live electric wires. In Moonachie, N.J., Sandy's tidal surge sent water over a riverbank and gushing out of storm drains, setting off a frantic rescue of people stranded in houses and rooftops.
In some situations, the best that responders have been able to do so far is simply to warn people to stay out of harm's way.
A power outage at a water treatment plant in Maryland resulted in a sewage overflow of 2 million gallons per hour into a flooded section of the Little Patuxent River. Because of the severity of the storm, officials said they could take no immediate action to mitigate the river's contamination.
Obama warned Tuesday that the storm remains dangerous as it moves slowly inland. "There are still risks of flooding," winds, and downed power lines, he said at Red Cross headquarters in Washington. He encouraged Americans in Sandy's path to be careful but also to reach out to neighbors who may need help.
"The public can be the eyes and ears, in terms of identifying unmet needs," Obama said. That echoed a message that other emergency-response experts have sounded: that Sandy has in some regions spawned greater needs than first responders can easily handle.
With that in view, Obama urged patience and resilience by citizens. "Be good neighbors for the duration, until everybody is back on their feet."
• Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.