Obama offered the assurances as rays of brilliant sunshine washed over storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey on Wednesday, illuminating a coastal region cautiously stumbling back to life after the darkness and wreckage wrought by hybrid superstorm Sandy.
In the morning, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) gave an enthusiastic thumbs up as he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange after a two-day closure, while two major airports reopened and buses and taxicabs began returning to city streets still clogged with flotsam and jetsam from the storm.
Obama later got a firsthand look at the enormous devastation that Sandy left behind on the New Jersey shore, joining Christie for an afternoon helicopter tour from Atlantic City to Point Pleasant Beach.
The wreckage in view included a demolished boardwalk, flattened houses and “a carnival and a large pier that look like the storm took giant bites out of the ends of them” in Seaside Heights, according to a pool report.
“I want to just let you know that your governor is working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible everybody can get back to normal,” Obama told Brigantine residents after the tour. “The entire country has been watching what’s been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit.”
“Except my boss,” a man in the audience yelled out.
“Well, except your boss,” Obama replied as the crowd laughed. “If you need me to call, you let me know.”
Obama added that he would “not tolerate any red tape” in the recovery effort. “We’re not going to tolerate any bureaucracy. We’re going to make sure that we get the help to you as quickly as we can.”
Christie, a top supporter of Republican challenger Mitt Romney who has emerged as a major booster of Obama’s handling of the storm, said “I know he means it” when Obama said he would follow through on help for the state. Christie said he has been working closely with the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey, and I appreciate it very much,” Christie said. “We’re going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal.”
Robin Barrella, a 51-year-old cocktail waitress who came to the shelter two nights ago, said she has not seen her house since water started coming into it as the storm struck.