President Barack Obama flew over the hurricane-ravaged New York City area on Thursday, promising government support for a region still struggling to get back on its feet in the wake of the powerful storm.
The president flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport before boarding a helicopter that carried him over areas of Queens and stopping on Staten Island to meet with emergency workers and families whose lives were upended.
Joining Obama on the flight were Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, as well as the Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, and the Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, traveled with the president aboard Air Force One.
Obama met with affected families, local officials and first responders who have been dealing with the deadly storm, which slammed into New York, New Jersey and other East Coast states late last month, killing more than 100 people and leaving millions without power.
“The storm passes and sometimes attention turns elsewhere,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One. “But the fact is there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.”
Obama traveled to New Jersey on Oct. 31 to meet with Gov. Chris Christie and view recovery efforts in coastal communities. The president viewed flattened houses, flooded neighborhoods, sand-strewn streets and a still-burning fire along the state’s battered coastline. Parts of the New Jersey shore’s famed boardwalks were missing.
Obama pledged to those affected by the storm that “we are here for you and we will not forget.”
Thousands of people in the New York region remain without power 2 1/2 weeks after Sandy hit, including customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, just east of New York City, and in parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The president’s trip comes less than 24 hours after Gillibrand and Schumer asked for up to $1 billion in federal aid to rebuild the damaged New York coastline – more than 120 miles in all, from Rockaway Beach in Queens to Montauk Point, at the eastern end of Long Island.
Cuomo had earlier announced that he would seek $30 billion in federal aid for storm-related expenses, including everything from repairing bridges, tunnels and subway lines to paying emergency workers’ overtime costs. The White House said the administration had no specific response because it had not yet received details of the request.