US President Barack Obama toured areas in New York devastated by the superstorm 'Sandy' and met first responders, saying "long-term" rebuilding is required in the state which is still struggling to recover from the storm that hit its Northeast two weeks ago.
Obama surveyed Sandy's disaster zones by air yesterday and took stock of the recovery efforts underway at Staten Island, one of the worst hit areas where thousands of people are still left without power.
"We are now still in the process of recovery. As you can see, as you travel around parts of Staten Island, as we flew over parts of -- other parts of the city and the region that had been impacted, there is still a lot of cleanup to do," Obama said.
The President said there are still several people who need emergency help, power, food and shelter.
"There's a lot of short-term, immediate stuff that has to be dealt with. And we are going to make sure that we stay here as long as people need that immediate help. There's going to be some long-term rebuilding that's required," he added.
Obama also toured a street with many damaged homes and talked with locals in front of a home whose front was partially missing.
He met privately with Damien and Glenda Moore, whose two small children died after being swept away in the storm, at the distribution tents.
The storm was the worst to hit the northeast in decades and caused unprecedented damage.
Over a 100 people were killed, with most deaths being reported in New York and New Jersey. In Staten Island alone, 23 people died out of the total of 43 deaths reported in New York City.
The storm left millions without power for days, brought the mass transit system to a halt and caused billions of dollars in economic damages.
Obama had suspended his election campaigning and visited New Jersey just days after the storm hit the east coast on October 29.
He said the recovery efforts would require the local and federal agencies to be focused "on getting the job done."
"We're going to have to put some of the turf battles aside. We're going to have to make sure that everybody is focused on doing the job as opposed to worrying about who is getting the credit or who is getting the contracts or all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process," he said, flanked by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Obama said he was appointing Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan as the federal government's "point person" to oversee storm recovery.
Donovan would work with the mayor, the governor and county officials to "make sure that we come up with a strong, effective plan."
Obama said as the region returns to normalcy, the sense of togetherness would carry the people through the tragedy.
"It's not going to be easy. There's still going to be some complaints over the next several months. Not everybody is going to be satisfied," he said.
"I'm very proud of you, New York. You guys are tough. You bounce back, just as America always bounces back. The same is going to be true this time out," the President said.