Obama vows to help Sandy victims
01 November 2012, 09:49
New York - US President Barack Obama toured New Jersey's devastated
coastline on Wednesday, vowing to stay with flood victims "for the long
haul", as the US toll from superstorm Sandy passed 60.
slowly got back on its feet. The stock exchanges and John F Kennedy and
Newark Liberty airports reopened. But more than six million homes and
businesses, the majority of them in New York state and neighbouring New
Jersey, remained without power.
The true extent of one of the
largest and most destructive storms ever to strike the United States
became clearer - entire coastal communities in Maryland, Delaware and
New Jersey are submerged or cut off by floodwaters.
reports said 63 Americans had been confirmed dead across 15
storm-ravaged states, bringing Sandy's overall toll to 135 including
Canada and the Caribbean, where Haiti and Cuba were hit particularly
Just six days before America goes to
the polls, with his re-election chances hanging in the balance, Obama
surveyed the damage in New Jersey, where a massive relief operation had
swung into gear with tens of thousands of homes under water.
a third day off the campaign trail to manage the response to the
disaster despite Tuesday's looming election, Obama, accompanied by New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie, offered a show of strength and support
"You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. We are
going to be here for the long haul," he told a group of evacuees at a
makeshift shelter after listening to stories of loss and survival.
and Christie clambered aboard the president's Marine One helicopter to
fly over New Jersey's Atlantic coast - over houses tipped off their
foundations, streets inundated with sand, and still flooded
In the community of Seaside Heights, Obama saw
the twisted iron of an amusement park which took a heavy hit from the
storm, and a nearby pier that was ripped apart.
Although the main
focus was on New Jersey and New York, particularly lower Manhattan and
Long Island, Obama said he was also concerned about Connecticut and West
Virginia, where heavy snows had made certain areas inaccessible.
are here for you. And we will not forget. We will follow up to make
sure that you get all the help that you need until you've rebuilt," he
said, adding: "we will not quit until this is done".
many towns and cities along the US East Coast remained paralysed
following Monday's onslaught by superstorm Sandy, buses were back on New
York streets and state Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that limited
subway services would resume on Thursday.
New York's LaGuardia
airport was also expected to reopen on Thursday. At last count, 19 500
flights had been cancelled because of Sandy, tracking service
Limited commuter rail service to New York
suburbs resumed on Wednesday, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced
temporary car pooling rules to reduce the gridlock choking Manhattan.
Institutions returning to service also included the UN Security Council, which suffered flooding from the East River.
these improvements, large sections of New York, including many
skyscrapers in lower Manhattan, remained without electricity, and
schools throughout the city were to remain shuttered for the rest of the
Bellevue Hospital, the oldest in the country, decided to
evacuate its remaining 500 patients on Wednesday after flooding
inundated the basement and knocked out electricity.
Hoboken, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, people in flooded
homes were still waiting for rescue, while in Jersey City, a night
curfew was declared in the wake of looting.
presidential election campaign, which went into a hiatus during the
storm, was likewise coming back to life in the final run-up to election
day on November 6.
Romney gingerly returned to the campaign trail
in the key swing state of Florida, but he too addressed the plight of
storm-battered Americans hundreds of miles to the north.
please, if you have an extra dollar or two, please, send them along and
keep the people who have been in harm's way... in your thoughts and
prayers," he told about 2 000 people in an airport hangar in Tampa.
the scale of the disaster sank in, about 10 000 National Guard troops
deployed to storm-hit states to help local authorities rescue stranded
survivors, remove debris, direct traffic and assess the damage from the
air, the Pentagon said.
While National Guard trucks rolled
through the flooded streets of New Jersey, troops offered help along a
main highway in the mountains of snow-struck West Virginia.
engineers stood ready to provide pumps and generators as needed while
the US Navy sent out three amphibious ships off the New Jersey coast in
case state governments requested aid for rescue operations.
Insured losses from Sandy could run between $7bn and $15bn, according to initial industry estimates.