Obama guarantees aid to states hit by Sandy
Washington: President Barack Obama guaranteed Saturday all necessary aid to states hit by Hurricane Sandy, which left at least 100 dead and caused widespread damage on the East Coast.
Obama, who attended a morning meeting of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, acknowledged that "we still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and we get back to normalcy".
He pointed to the efforts already made to restore power to the affected area, pump the water out, make sure victims` basic needs are addressed and station the National Guard to respond wherever necessary.
What is most critical at this time, the president said, is to "restore power as quickly as possible".
Sandy left more than 8.2 million homes without power in 15 states, but according to the latest figures from the Department of Energy, on Friday more than 4.8 million users had already recovered their electricity.
The president said that due to the low temperatures this week, an operation has been launched to move people who had gone to shelters in the storm to temporary homes where they can feel a little more back to normal.
Obama also signed Saturday a "disaster declaration" for the areas of Rhode Island affected by the powerful winds and flooding caused this week by Hurricane Sandy, the White House said.
The declaration makes available to local governments and communities the federal government funds, equipment and personnel they need to provide aid for victims and repair the damage left by the storm.
Sandy made landfall last Monday south of Atlantic City, New Jersey, with sustained winds of 137 km per hour and left more than 100 people dead on the US East Coast.
On Thursday the president visited some of the most affected areas in New Jersey, together with the Republican governor of that state, Chris Christie.
Obama will stand for re-election Tuesday against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
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