Sandy aftermath: Obama to tour New York Thursday
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President Barack Obama will be in New York Thursday to get a firsthand look at recovery efforts after superstorm Sandy left 43 dead and pockets of the state devastated.
The president is expected to make a stop in hard-hit Queens to tour the destruction in the Rockaways and Breezy Point. There is no word yet on whether the Hudson Valley, Long Island or Staten Island will be part of his itinerary.
Obama had offered to visit New York City in the immediate aftermath of Sandy on Oct. 29, but was asked not to come by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the visit might divert resources from recovery work as the city staggered back to its feet. Sandy inflicted about $33 billion in damage to the state and plunged more than 1 million households into darkness, for more than two weeks. Some remain without power. "We would love to have him, but we've got lots of things to do," Bloomberg said Oct. 30.
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On Oct. 31, Obama got a look at the damage in New Jersey, where he met with Gov. Chris Christie to pledge as much help from the federal government as needed. The president helicoptered with Christie over washed-out roads, flooded homes, boardwalks bobbing in the ocean and, in Seaside Heights, N.J., a fire that was still burning after destroying about eight structures.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Obama and Congress to give the state a $30 billion relief package. Special legislation would be needed to provide the funding, even as the president and congressional leaders negotiated to avoid the automatic activation of billions in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January -- the so-called "fiscal cliff" economists fear could plunge the nation back into recession.
Cuomo's request for $30 billion dwarfs the millions, or even billions, of dollars the Federal Emergency Management Agency might give local governments and residents in the coming months. The total budget for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for this year amounts to only about $13 billion.
Cuomo already has asked FEMA to pay 100 percent of the costs the agency is responsible for covering. FEMA customarily pays 75 percent of disaster-related costs.
Obama has pledged to speed federal aid to the hardest-hit states.