Obama Tells Hurricane-Hit New Jersey: ‘The Whole Country Is Behind You’


obama1President Obama vowed to get federal money to those hard hit last weekend by Hurricane Irene during a trip to New Jersey to tour storm damage.

The president traveled to Paterson, N.J. on Sunday to view areas affected when the Passaic River crested over its banks forcing hundreds to evacuate the area. Obama spoke with local residents, many still without power.

“You know, it could have been worse,” Obama said. “But we should not underestimate the heartache that’s going through a lot of these communities, affecting a lot of families.”

“The entire country is behind you,” he said. “We are going to make sure that we provide all the resources that are necessary in order to help these communities rebuild.”

Late last week the White House told Congress they need $5 billion more in disaster relief money, outside of what’s needed for Irene.

Under the budget deal crafted in August, there’s $11 billion in aid available that doesn’t need offsets as some Republicans have demanded, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Right now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has less than $800 million in its disaster relief fund to help out those affected by Irene through September.

As for those who say it may take a while to find funds “we are going to meet our obligations,” Obama vowed.

In times of disaster, “we’re one country, and when one part of the country gets affected, whether it’s a tornado in Joplin, Missouri, or a hurricane that affects the Eastern Seaboard, then we come together as one country and we make sure that everybody gets the help that they need,” the president said.

“I’m going to make sure that even after the cameras are gone and attention is somewhere else that FEMA and federal officials continue to work with our local officials to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

Administration officials said the president was accompanied on his tour of the storm-hit areas by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez.

The president also took time to praise the efforts of emergency response workers. “I’m very proud of the work that FEMA has done not only from our central agency but, more importantly, the folks locally here on the ground who have been coordinating with the emergency management teams here in New Jersey,” said Obama.

But as the president toured New Jersey, parts of the Gulf coast were facing the effects of Tropical Storm Lee. The “New Orleans Times-Picayune” reported flooding in some parts of New Orleans.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama was monitoring events there as well. He told reporters that FEMA administrator Fugate was “providing him updates on that tropical storm.” “We are obviously monitoring that, concerned about the — what will be — has been and will be a significant amount of rainfall,” Carney added.

The president also spent part of the last long weekend of the summer working on the jobs-plan speech he’ll deliver to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

Spokesman Jay Carney said the president spent “part of the weekend putting finishing touches on the jobs speech” and is “very far along.”

For the past week, Obama has urged Congress to act quickly on what he called a “bipartisan agenda” that is expected to include infrastructure spending and requests for an extension of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax.

Carney said “policy makers “need to take action to spur growth” and the proposals the president will make on jobs “without question will positively affect growth.”

{The Hill/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. First comment on the story is wrong. Obama is saving Texas, Perry is wasting his time on posturing and prayer in vain.

    Here is the emes:

    President Orders Emergency Aid For Texas Fires

    Release Date: September 1, 1999
    Release Number: 3142-01

    » More Information on Texas Extreme Fire Hazards

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Clinton has ordered federal emergency aid for Texas because of the extreme threat to populated areas posed by the recent outbreak of wildfires.

    FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the President took the action this afternoon after the agency reported that severe drought conditions have sparked some 217 wildfires, which burned more than 23,300 acres of land and threatened numerous communities since August 1.

    Witt said the President’s emergency declaration authorizes FEMA to make direct federal assistance available to pay 75 percent of the cost for emergency measures needed to save lives, protect property, and insure public health and safety in 227 of the state’s counties. The funding includes costs for the required mobilizing and advanced staging of federal and state firefighting resources.

    Under the declaration, reimbursement of the state’s cost for fighting wildland fires will continue to be authorized under FEMA’s fire suppression grant program, Witt said.

    <What follows is a list of over 100 effected counties in Texas to receive our national taxes as a bail out for their own inadequate fire protection. How is Gov. Perry’s pray for rain program working out??