(Amy Gardner via Instagram)

Escaping for a day the discussions — and partisan positioning — surrounding the federal budget and how to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Obama spent the day instead talking to New York officials and Superstorm Sandy victims about the continuing struggle to restore power and the flow of federal disaster aid. 

Along with New York's two U.S. Senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama toured some of the worst damage, passing over Breezy Point, where 110 houses burned, and the Far Rockaways, which was inundated by a devastating storm surge.

Obama then touched down on a large athletic field on Staten Island, where a city of white tents is serving as one of six disaster recovery areas set up in the region. The president spoke to and hugged survivors of the storm seeking assistance, to federal disaster workers and local officials. He visited a tent stacked with soup, granola bars, cleaning products and other goods to be distributed to survivors.

"There’s still a lot of cleanup to do," Obama said, standing alongside the other dignitaries in front of a destroyed home on Cedar Grove Avenue in the New Dorp section of Staten Island. "People still need emergency help. They still need heat. They still need power, they still need shelter, kids are still trying to figure out where they’re going to school."

Obama walked the streets of New Dorp, where collapsed houses, yards filled with debris and a boarded church revealed the extent of Sandy's devastation. He also met privately with Damien and Glenda Moore of Staten Island. The Moores' two small children, Brandon and Connor, died after being swept away in the storm.

More on Obama's visit to survey Sandy damage in New York here