Obama offers short and long-term help for areas hit by Sandy

STATEN ISLAND, New York Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:23am EST

U.S. President Barack Obama greets residents affected by Hurricane Sandy at a Staten Island FEMA disaster recovery center in New York, November 15, 2012. Obama was due to visit areas of New York still without power on Thursday, 17 days after Superstorm Sandy tore across the eastern seaboard, showing his ongoing concern for victims of the storm even as his administration turns to budget and international challenges. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama greets residents affected by Hurricane Sandy at a Staten Island FEMA disaster recovery center in New York, November 15, 2012. Obama was due to visit areas of New York still without power on Thursday, 17 days after Superstorm Sandy tore across the eastern seaboard, showing his ongoing concern for victims of the storm even as his administration turns to budget and international challenges.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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STATEN ISLAND, New York (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged ongoing federal support for areas still digging out of the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy two weeks ago, and said that the area needed a long-term recovery plan.

"There's a lot of short-term immediate stuff that has to be dealt with and we are going to make sure we stay here as long as people need that immediate help," he told a collection of elected officials, volunteers and survivors after surveying parts of New York that were hit hard by the storm.

"But what we've also already heard is that there is going to be some long-term building that's required," he added.

Obama said he was designating the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, as the federal "point person" in the long-term rebuilding effort, and that his administration would continue working with the governors and congressional delegations of New York and New Jersey.

"I have to tell you, the insurance companies and some of the other private sector folks who are involved in this, we need you to show some heart and some spirit in helping people rebuild, as well," he said.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal, Writing by Lisa Lambert in Washington; Editing by Dan Burns)

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