President Obama visits Staten Island

President Barack Obama speaks to residents in Staten Island.

President Barack Obama surveyed damage from Hurricane Sandy today, speaking with volunteers and locals in Staten Island.

The president, who landed at JFK this morning, took a helicopter tour over the Rockaways peninsula, including a survey of Breezy Point, and Staten Island.

All are areas where the rushing water wrecked homes and businesses, and many are still struggling to recover.

“We’ve got some work to do, and I want you to know I’m here to do it,” the president told locals.

First, the president greeted and thanked volunteers at a FEMA center in Staten Island.

Then, his motorcade drove to a destroyed home and damaged church, where he spoke to a group of Staten Islanders, many whose homes are inhabitable now.

“Most of the folks that I met here have been here 20, 30, 50 years,” the president told reporters. “They don’t want to see their community uprooted, but there’s got to be a plan for rebuilding … and they’re going to need resources.”

And he also met with Damien and Glenda Moore, whose two sons, Brandon and Connor, died when they were swept away by floodwaters.

“Obviously, I expressed to them — as a father, as a parent — my heartbreak over what they went through,” he said. “And they’re still obviously a little shell-shocked.”

Obama praised an NYPD officer, Lieutenant Kevin Gallagher, who he said
helped the Moore family find their sons and “and has been with them as a
source of support ever since.”

He went on to say that the Moore family
specifically asked him to recognize the officer, who he said went “above
and beyond the call of duty to respond to people in need.”

He
noted, “The Moores, even in their grief, asked me to mention Lieutenant
Gallagher, and that says something about them as well.” 

The White House said Obama assigned Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to work with New York and New Jersey officials as they try to put cities back together. Donovan used to be New York City’s Department of Housing commissioner.

Quite a few officials were in town for his visit, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.

Obama toured New Jersey on Halloween, but Bloomberg had politely declined an offer to come to the city as well.


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