November 3rd, 2012
11:03 AM ET
(CNN) – Meeting with Cabinet officials at the headquarters of FEMA before a long day of campaigning, President Barack Obama said his government was singularly focused on improving conditions for people still living without power and amenities after Superstorm Sandy devastated areas of the East Coast.
"There is nothing more important than us getting this right,” Obama said to a group of reporters. He was flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. Also present were the secretaries of defense, energy, HUD, health and human services, education and transportation.
The president listed a series of items still on the federal government’s punch list, including restoring power to parts of New York City and New Jersey. The president said crews from as far away as California were being deployed to help restore electricity as temperatures drop in the East. About 2.7 million customers remained without power Saturday across 15 states and the District of Columbia, and some may be in the dark for another week, according to utility officials.
There was light for some Manhattan residents late Friday however – cheers erupted in areas downtown as electricity sparked back on for the first time in five days.
Obama also said pumping out flooded areas, removing debris and relaunching the country’s largest concentration of transportation infrastructures were all priorities as the recovery effort enters its second week.
“We're going to spend as much time, effort and energy as necessary to make sure all the people of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut know that the entire country is behind them in this difficult recovery effort,” Obama said.
The president’s remarks came as he was set to embark on a day-long campaign tour through Ohio, Iowa and Virginia. A White House official said Obama was briefed overnight on storm recovery efforts.
In his remarks, the president said “our hearts continue to go out” to the families of the 106 people killed in the storm as it bore down on the Eastern Seaboard early last week.
"That's obviously heart-breaking. But I'm confident that we will continue to make progress as long as state and local and federal officials stay focused,” Obama said.