After Sandy, Obama should visit Long Island, too

President Barack Obama hugs New Dorp Beach, Staten

President Barack Obama hugs New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, resident Debbi Ingenito. New Dorp Beach experienced severe flooding during superstorm Sandy. (Nov. 15, 2012) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

Lucky New Jersey.

It's got a "homeboy" in the White House, which is how Vice President Joe Biden described himself during a visit over the weekend to view damage from superstorm Sandy.

"This is a national responsibility," Biden said as he stood before a wrecked boardwalk in Seaside Heights.


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Twice in the three weeks since Sandy, the Garden State's had a visit from the White House, including one from the First Visitor.

New York City got a visit from the White House, too.

It even got one from a former president, William Jefferson Clinton, who visited Queens with volunteers from his Clinton Global Initiative.

What about Nassau? Suffolk?

We're waiting.

It was nice -- as I pointed out last week -- really nice that Obama flew above a portion of our damaged shores last week. And that he gave a shoutout to our suffering by mentioning "Long Island" in his remarks after.

It also was good that two federal department heads -- of Housing and Urban Development and Homeland Security -- paid a visit to Long Beach, which will take years to recover. And that one of them, HUD, has been appointed to help oversee recovery efforts.

But there's something to be said for the value of face time. A few handshakes. And, especially for Long Islanders still struggling with the reality that their homes are no more, a few hugs.

So come on down, Mr. President. You too, Mr. Vice President. Together, you've come so close, so tantalizingly close, three times now.

Yes, we need federal money for recovery and reconstruction. And it's good to know that the Obama administration wants to keep our progress in its sights -- although, as one reader pointed out last week, it is better to leave the bulk of on-the-ground rebuilding decisions to locals rather than nationals.

Just last week, a panel of local, town, city and village officials laid out in detail some of the challenges Nassau and Suffolk will tackle as the region moves forward.

Some said we shouldn't rebuild near shorelines; others said that, yes indeed, we should by doing it smarter and stronger. Yet while there was no agreement on specifics -- this is Long Island, home of micro-local governance -- the consensus was that we will come back.

But that's down the line for many of the hardest-hit communities. For now, residents are still struggling -- to tear down homes, inventory lost possessions, fill out claim forms, hire electricians, find a hot meal and more, much more.

The region needs a boost. So anytime you're ready, Mr. President, please consider heading farther East next time.

We're sandwiched right between Queens -- and Portugal.