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Obama, Christie tour storm damage from Sandy

3:51 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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NJ Governor Chris Christie & President Barack Obama shake hands outside of Marine One in Atlantic City on Oct. 31, 2012 (Getty Images)

(USA Today) -- President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- the newest political odd couple -- began a tour Wednesday of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy along the Jersey shore.

The Democratic president and Republican governor -- a major supporter of White House challenger Mitt Romney -- took an aerial tour that included sights of charred houses, sand-packed and water-logged streets, and busted bridges and boardwalks.

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At least one Jersey resident showed some puckish political humor; on the sand at Point Pleasant Beach, someone wrote a name in large letters: ROMNEY.

While an outspoken critic of Obama's policies in general, Christie has praised the president's leadership in the aftermath of the hurricane that swept through the northeast United States on Monday and Tuesday.

Christie, wearing a blue polar fleece, slacks, and white sneakers, greeted Obama at airport in Atlantic City. The president is wearing khaki pants, a blue windbreaker, and brown hiking boots.

The two men and Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, boarded a Marine One helicopter for their tour. Obama and Chris Christie also planned to speak with local officials about rescue and recovery efforts.

While the Atlantic City boardwalk appears to be intact, observers saw mountains of sand covering city streets up and down the Jersey coast. Pools and pools of standing water also dotted the landscape.

In Beach Haven, on Long Beach Island, entire streets are underwater, and buildings are pock-marked by boarded-up or broken windows.

Some of the worst damage occurred at Seaside Heights, where roads are covered by either water or sand. Both the boardwalk and a nearby carnival got smashed by Hurricane Sandy, leaving wood fragments everywhere. A fire that burned down at least eight house still smolders. Other homes lost their decks to the storm's fury. Abandoned cars remain on a bridge knocked down at one end.

Earlier in the day, Obama visited FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., for another briefing on recovery plans.

The president also called the New York University-Langone Medical Center to thank doctors and nurses for evacuating more than 200 patients as the storm approached, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

One topic Carney would not address: What impact, if any, will the storm have on Obama's fortunes on Election Day next Tuesday. Carney said the president is dealing with governors, mayors, and other local officials "regardless" of political party.

"This is a time to focus on what was a devastating storm and the terrible aftermath of that storm," Carney said. "This is not a time for politics."

 

The next town to the north, Point Pleasant Beach, again has sand and water everywhere. It is about four blocks inland before you can see concrete on the roads.

Someone has written "ROMNEY" in large letters in the sand at the north end of Point Pleasant Beach.

We pass over a harbor. The boats seem to be in okay shape. Flying back south on the bay side of Long Beach Island. The water level is high, lapping at the bottom of homes. On the mainland bay shore again there are homes and parts of homes turned into wood piles. The island's bay shore seems to be in better shape.

There's a two-span bridge to Long Beach Island that looks to be in tact, though on the island side there looked to be mud on the road.

Heading south, more water on mainland roadways near the bay. Entire sections of several hundred yards each of the north-south road closest to the bay are underwater but there are vehicles traversing it.

Perhaps it was tough to catch from the helo, but pool did not see very many trees down. Not many leaves left on the trees either.

The last 10 minutes of the ride were relatively uneventful. Pool passed over mainland towns, a trailer park which seemed to have survived unscathed and a golf course with the appropriate amount of sand on it. There are entire subdivisions that look like no storm hit.

Nighthawk Two landed back at the Atlantic City airport at 2:24 p.m. Marine One followed seconds later.

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The next town to the north, Point Pleasant Beach, again has sand and water everywhere. It is about four blocks inland before you can see concrete on the roads.

Someone has written "ROMNEY" in large letters in the sand at the north end of Point Pleasant Beach.

We pass over a harbor. The boats seem to be in okay shape. Flying back south on the bay side of Long Beach Island. The water level is high, lapping at the bottom of homes. On the mainland bay shore again there are homes and parts of homes turned into wood piles. The island's bay shore seems to be in better shape.

There's a two-span bridge to Long Beach Island that looks to be in tact, though on the island side there looked to be mud on the road.

Heading south, more water on mainland roadways near the bay. Entire sections of several hundred yards each of the north-south road closest to the bay are underwater but there are vehicles traversing it.

Perhaps it was tough to catch from the helo, but pool did not see very many trees down. Not many leaves left on the trees either.

The last 10 minutes of the ride were relatively uneventful. Pool passed over mainland towns, a trailer park which seemed to have survived unscathed and a golf course with the appropriate amount of sand on it. There are entire subdivisions that look like no storm hit.

Nighthawk Two landed back at the Atlantic City airport at 2:24 p.m. Marine One followed seconds later.

(USA Today)

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