NEW YORK — President Barack Obama got a look on Thursday at the muddy wreckage that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake, flying over ravaged neighborhoods in Queens, consoling devastated homeowners under tents and in the streets on Staten Island, and promising a strong and continuing federal role in the recovery.
“We’re reminded that we are bound together and have to look out for each other," Obama said after walking down a block that had been all but demolished in the storm.
Obama, flanked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he wanted federal officials to work with state and local leaders in New York and New Jersey on “a game plan for how we’re going to be able to resource the rebuilding process."
The president also said he was assigning Shaun Donovan, the secretary of housing and urban development and a former New York City housing official, to oversee the federal recovery effort in the New York area.
“We’re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside," he said. “We’re going to have to make sure everybody’s focused on doing the job as opposed to worrying about who’s getting the credit or who’s getting the contracts and all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process."
But administration officials were vague when they were asked about requests for federal aid for New York, including $30 billion from Cuomo and $1 billion from Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Aboard Air Force One on the way to New York, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters that the administration had not received details of Cuomo’s proposal; the president listened during the flight as the two senators made their case for a significant infusion of federal money.
Schumer said later that the president made it clear that he would push to get the money to help the region recover.