Thursday, November 15, 2012

Obama to tour New York's island of 'heartbreak'

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President Obama will travel to the New York area and take another tour of areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, including hard-hit Staten Island. NBC News' Jay Gray reports.
By Andrew Mach, NBC News

As President Obama visits storm-ravaged areas of New York Thursday, he will find neighborhoods littered with the rubble of shattered lives and pummeled homes.
While many in the region have moved on since the storm swept through the region, killing more than a 100 people and leaving millions without power, much work remains to be done: thousands are still without power, tens of thousands are homeless, and many more are trying to pick up the pieces.

“Heartbreak, absolute heartbreak,” said Diane Rivera, a resident of Staten Island. “We had a nice house and family here and we were happy here and it’s gone. It’s gone. It’s our whole life we put on the curb for the trash.”

Tattered shells are all that remain of many homes on Staten Island. Boats pushed to the middle of the street still pockmark shore roads. And mounds of debris, from soggy drywall to treasured keepsakes, are common in front yards.

Rebuilding lives after Sandy, one photo at a time

While in the region Thursday, Obama will meet with affected families, local officials and first responders who have been dealing with Sandy’s destruction. His visit will also include an aerial tour, during which he will be joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

Obama also will visit a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery center and take a walking tour of a neighborhood affected by the storm. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, will travel with the president aboard Air Force One.

Mario Tama / Getty Images
A snowstorm hits the Northeast as residents are still struggling to pick up the pieces after Superstorm Sandy.
Launch slideshow:   Recovering after Sandy

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."

Obama also traveled to Louisiana in early September after the Gulf Coast was hit by Hurricane Isaac.

Thousands of people in the New York region remain without power 2½ 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.

NBC News' Jay Gray and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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