WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama visited New Jersey Wednesday, following the devastation left by superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast with full force on Monday night, wreaking havoc in its wake.
The storm killed 27 people in New York state, and six in New Jersey. Seven other states reported fatalities. Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean last week before it reached the United States.
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Tuesday morning saw Obama declare a major disaster in New York, New Jersey and Long Island, making federal funding available to residents of the area.
Both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney suspended their campaign over the storm. Early voting in the affected states has come to a complete halt.
With only a week left until the elections, Obama's visit to New Jersey will essentially be his last act as president before he and Romney resume campaigning, Thursday.
In ruins. Jersey Shore (Photo: EPA)
Obama's meeting with Republican Governor Chris Christie will benefit both; as Christie – who never spared the Democratic president his criticism – is now teaming with him to help the storm-struck state. Rebuilding New Jersey is a task only the federal government can take on.
Christie met Air Force One at Newark Airport and both he and Obama boarded Marine One ahead of an aerial tour of Sandy's damage.
Air Force One flying over New Jersey (Photo: Reuters)
The image of the two symbolizes that of America united in crisis and oblivious to political differences, while millions of Americans are stranded without power and utilities.
As the cynics have already said – it is almost enough to make you forget that there is an election next week.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would formally request the US federal government to reimburse up to 100% of the costs needed to clean up and repair damages from Sandy.
In a letter to Obama, Cuomo said that the "initial estimates project up to $6 billion in lost economic revenue in the greater metropolitan area and the State". He added that "the "significant impact from Hurricane Sandy plainly warrant providing this assistance."
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