Many New Yorkers are still without critical resources, including power, heat and food, days after "superstorm" Sandy thrashed the U.S. East Coast.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the country still has "a long way to go" to make sure that the people of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and start moving back to normalcy. Obama called addressing the crisis his "number one priority."
The president spoke at a meeting with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other members of his Cabinet. Fugate discussed efforts to restore power, pump water out of flooded areas and provide temporary housing for those whose homes were destroyed. Fugate also highlighted the importance of removing debris and getting transportation systems back up and running.
At a news conference Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that officials are also working to address the city's fuel shortage following the storm. Cuomo said the gas shortage occurred because the Coast Guard closed the harbor, preventing tankers from making deliveries. But he said the flow has now resumed, with 8 million gallons of fuel already delivered and another 28 million to be delivered during the next couple days. The Department of Defense will also be setting up mobile fuel stations around the New York metro area to distribute free gasoline to people.
Preliminary estimates have put the total cost of the storm for the east coast at between $20 billion and $50 billion. And each day businesses remain closed reduces the region's economic output by about $200 million.
The American Automobile Association says about 60 percent of gas stations in New Jersey and about 70 percent of those on New York's Long Island are closed.
On Friday, the U.S. government said the Defense Department will buy and transport 22 million gallons of extra fuel to the region to help ease the shortages. The government said it is also allowing foreign ships to help carry fuel from one U.S. port to another, something that is normally not legal.
President Obama also focused on the storm in his weekly address Saturday, his last before Tuesday's presidential election. Obama told Americans affected by the disaster that the country will be there for them as long as it takes to recover and rebuild.