President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today flew over the Jersey Shore to assess the devastation that Superstorm Sandy left in its wake, stopping at a community center to reassure the storm's victims that state and federal officials are working together to help the state recover.
"I want to let you know that your governor is working overtime," President Obama told New Jersey residents gathered at the Brigantine Beach Community Center in Brigantine, N.J. "The entire country has been watching what's been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit."
The community center, in a small community northeast of Atlantic City, has served as a shelter for local residents affected by Sandy. At the storm's peak, 200 people were sleeping in the center's gym. Currently, about 50 people are staying overnight there, with many others coming throughout the day to eat, charge their electronics and take hot showers.
Christie commended the president's response to the crisis, telling residents, "It's really important to have the president of the United States here."
The two leaders spoke with residents at the community center and stopped to greet the cooks. "The people have been cooking for 18 hours straight," Mr. Obama remarked.
The president said the "top priority" is to restore power. Power outages that at their peak Monday affected 2.7 million residential and commercial customers in the state. When the president told the residents, "We're going to not tolerate any red tape," Christie chimed in, "I know he means it."
"We took a whole tour of the coast," Christie said. "He got a chance to see the destruction along the coast of New Jersey and we've been working with [FEMA Director Craig] Fugate here to make sure that we need the things we need to get here. This state is working hard too, you know we're working hard."