President vows to stick by New York storm victims on Sandy recovery tour

Obama brought the spotlight to people still living without heat or electricity, and hugged many of those trying to rebuild their lives.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Obama shakes hands during a visit to a hurricane battered Staten Island neighborhood in New York, on Nov. 15. Obama was due to visit areas of New York still without power on Thursday, 17 days after Superstorm Sandy tore across the eastern seaboard.

President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to stick with New Yorkers still struggling 17 days after Superstorm Sandy "until the rebuilding is complete" after getting an up-close look at devastated neighborhoods rendered unlivable.

Obama brought the spotlight to people still living without heat or electricity, and hugged many of those trying to rebuild their lives. He also delivered a postelection message of unity, nine days after a closely divided America gave him a second term.

"We're reminded that we are bound together and we have to look out for each other," Obama said from a block in Staten Island that was demolished by the storm. "The petty differences melt away."

Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm

Obama announced that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, former chief ofNew York's Housing Authority, will be his point person to oversee long-term rebuilding in the region.

The president encountered many still suffering in Sandy's aftermath, waiting in lines for food, supplies and other help.

He also met privately with parents who experienced the most unthinkable tragedy — the loss of their young boys, Brandon and Connor Moore, who were swept away in the storm. Damien and Glenda Moore's sons were among more than 100 people who lost their lives because of the powerful storm.

"Obviously I expressed to them as a father, as a parent, my heartbreak over what they went through,"Obama said. He said the Moores were "still a little shell shocked" but wanted to thank the New York City police lieutenant who stayed with them and supported them until their boys' bodies were found.

"That spirit and that sense of togetherness carry us through," Obama said.

Before arriving on Staten Island, the president's helicopter flew over Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, including the waterfront community of Breezy Point, where roughly 100 homes burned to the ground in a massive wind-swept fire.

On Staten Island, Obama met with people waiting in line at an emergency response center at New Dorp High School, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration, IRS, Red Cross and city agencies set up tents to help survivors. The White House said about 1,500 people had received services at the center, one of several in affected areas, as of Monday.

He hugged one woman at the business tent, asking where she was staying and if her loved ones were safe. He also visited a tent where food and toiletries were being distributed and thanked the workers and volunteers who came in from around the country. Several hundred people gathered nearby to see the president and shouted, "We love you!"

One girl collecting supplies who said her house is unlivable said: "We need help. He should have been here a long time ago."

Obama also walked along Cedar Grove Avenue, where most of the buildings were boarded up and homes were destroyed.

He was joined on the tour by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Cuomo said earlier this week that he would request $30 billion in federal aid to rebuild.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said he couldn't comment on the request because the administration was still waiting to see the details. He said the federal government will continue to do everything possible to cut red tape and help affected communities rebuild.

Obama traveled to New Jersey on Oct. 31 to meet with Gov. Chris Christie and view recovery efforts in battered coastal communities. He saw flattened houses, flooded neighborhoods, sand-strewn streets and a still-burning fire along the coastline.

The White House said the president didn't visit New York then so as not to interfere with recovery efforts.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to President vows to stick by New York storm victims on Sandy recovery tour
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/1115/President-vows-to-stick-by-New-York-storm-victims-on-Sandy-recovery-tour
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe