World News – US President Barack Obama toured the fringes of New York City hardest hit by superstorm Sandy on Thursday, hearing pleas for help and consoling the victims.
Flying in his Marine One helicopter, Obama was shown the Rockaways and Breezy Point neighborhoods in Queens, two areas where 17 days after Sandy struck there are still people without heat and light.
Obama then touched down on Staten Island, where 23 of the city’s 43 dead as a result of the storm perished, and damage remains severe.
Visiting a federal aid center, Obama was met with yells from a crowd of about 100 people.
One young woman who was at the center to get basic supplies said her house had been on the beach but was now “gone.”
“We need help. He should of been here a long time ago,” she said after talking with the president.
Another local said after meeting Obama that he’d lost “everything,” including his job, since hurricane-strength Sandy and an accompanying flood of sea water ruined whole neighborhoods.
Obama could be seen hugging some of the New Yorkers and consoling them. He also praised clean-up crews that had come from Texas, West Virginia and other states to help. “We’re proud of you guys,” he said.
Obama was joined by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and city Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among other officials.
As anger mounted around New York against utility companies that have yet to restore full power, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama “made clear that restoring power is an absolute priority, and he continues to make that clear.”
Carney said the White House had put forward $1.5 billion for recovery efforts, including $600 million already approved for direct assistance.
“We will continue to work with the governors on ongoing recovery efforts, including supporting their efforts to develop appropriate long-term housing plans for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed,” he said. (AFP)