Obama vows to help Sandy victims

2012-11-01 07:23

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.

New York 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.

US media 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 hard.


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.

Taking 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 to victims.

"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.

Obama 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 neighbourhoods.

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.

"We 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".


While 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 said.

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.

Despite 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 week.

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.

In nearby 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.


The 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.

"So 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.

As 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.

Army 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.

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-11-01 07:38

    And off course Obama will now milk this storm for as much as he can considering its election time. And the liberal press would sing his praises to futher his cause also.

      Antipoaching - 2012-11-01 08:19

      Kobus at least he went to the disaster area, the Eastern Cape has been devastated by flood (damage in the Billions of Rand), Zuma hasn't even acknowledged that we have a problem here, never mind getting off his @rse and coming to offer solace. Obama may not be perfect but he is a way better person than our Pres and there's no question that he is a far better bet than Romney the misogynist right-wing homophobe!

      Jaco Botha - 2012-11-01 08:31

      @kobus.hatting.5 WTF is wrong would helping those in need ,so what your saying is Obama knew the storm would come so that he could capitalize on peoples pain and suffering just so that he could win the election come on please stop criticizing ,i don't see you helping ,our President shower head Zuma can take a lesson on how a President react to a disaster

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-11-01 09:58

      kobus.hattingh.5 - Have you been following what is going on or your head is way up your behind? Romney was busy campaigning in "safe" florida while Obama was on ground zero. Whether he is faking it or not he is sure better than George bush who waited for days to respond to Hurricane katrina. Obama has abandoned his campaign to do his duty as Potus, George Bush was not campaigning during katrina but he abandoned his duties and allowed many to die. Even Republican Governor of New jersey Chris Christie praised Obama.Where is Romney?? How come Romney is not going to support his fellow republican but he flew down south to Florida to Campaigning??? While sandy was hitting the USA Republican party members were sending DVDs to voters that contained videos questioning Obama's citizenship.What has his citizenship got to do with his ability to run the country??? The way i see it, Romney has shot himself in the,the undecided voters now see him for what he is : A Replica of George Bush.He also lied recently about Chrysler moving plants to china even though that the manager at Chrysler debunked it as a lie.If Romney wins we can expect to see America declaring War on Iran as soon as possible.Obama is still the one keeping Israel on a leash so they don't start 3rd world war. Romney is just like all the republican Presidents before him,business savvy but politically stupid.

      sibusiso.hlongwane.92 - 2012-11-01 10:54

      The Taliban is strong with this one!

  • kenpeg.dawson - 2012-11-01 07:41

    Its not what my country can do for me but what can I do for my country. The mark of a good leader.

  • sisie.indola - 2012-11-01 07:48

    Obama playing the sympathy vote to the hilt.

  • ewroux - 2012-11-01 07:54

    Our heartfeld prayers and thoughts go out to those affected by Hurricance Sandy. Place your cares and troubles to the one above, he will always provide in your time and need.

  • mphogift.mukwevho - 2012-11-01 08:24


  • debduplessis - 2012-11-01 08:25

    I like the way Obama now ignores his electioneering campaign and goes out to the people of New York, New Jersey, Long Island as a first priority call. He makes funding available immediately for those in need - I wish we could have a president like that that puts the peoples needs first instead of his own! Instead we stuck with the most selfish dictator, self satisfying & bugger the people of RSA kind of "ruler" ... Zuma & the dictating ANC could learn alot from this man!

      Jaco Botha - 2012-11-01 08:34

      @debduplessis couldn't said is better my self

  • - 2012-11-01 08:27

    What is Obama expected to do, if he carried on campaigning, then it would be said, where was the President when the lights went out, sorry folks its either he does something or does nothing, you can't have it both ways. If Obama forsook the remainder of his campaigning - I reckon it would show even more that he is a man for the people, chew on that, KOBUS and SISIE INDOLA. of which he already is.

      debduplessis - 2012-11-01 09:07

      Zuma would have carried on with his campaign as his ego is too much for him to handle & not then being in power so that he can take more & more from public funding ............

  • antonie.kruger.7 - 2012-11-01 11:16

    Yeah buddy - you have my vote

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