President Obama Tuesday praised his administration's response to Superstorm Sandy on the one-year anniversary of the disaster, in spite of reports that only a small fraction of federal aid has reached the devastated communities and victims.
"We've provided billions of dollars of assistance to hundreds of thousands of people and small business owners through direct aid, grants, and loans," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "We take care of our own."
The storm killed more than 100 people. Congress approved $60.4 billion in storm relief for communities hit by the storm a year ago, mainly in New Jersey and New York. But government reports show that only about $13.5 billion of the aid has been paid out.
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama said his administration's response has "sent a strong message."
"We've helped thousands of families stay in their homes, communities cut through red tape and bureaucracy to receive the help they need, and worked with state and local officials to open 97% of public beaches before Memorial Day," he said in a statement. "Through a federal commitment to a long-term rebuilding effort, our roads, bridges, hospitals and businesses are coming back stronger than before."
The president's immediate response to the storm, and his very public cooperation with Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, was credited with giving his reelection bid a boost last fall.
Mr. Obama said the anniversary of the storm is a time to remember those who were killed, and to "comfort the families who grieve them still."
"And while there are still homes to rebuild and businesses to reopen, the last year has also served as a reminder of the strength and resilience of the American people," he said. "Over the past year, my administration has fought for these communities throughout the response, and the federal government will remain by their side as our fellow citizens rebuild."
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