(NEW YORK) — President Obama on Thursday named Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to coordinate the federal government’s long-term response to rebuilding the New York/New Jersey region devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
“On the federal level, I wanted to assign one particular person who will be our point-person. We thought it would be good to have a New Yorker be the point person,” Obama said in remarks on Staten Island.
Donovan, who is a former New York City housing commissioner, “knows a little bit about New York and building,” Obama said.
The president made the announcement following an aerial tour of Far Rockaway, including the Breezy Point neighborhood, on Long Island and parts of Staten Island, flying over sand-covered streets and destroyed homes piled along beaches.
He later saw the storm’s destruction first-hand on the ground, visiting with victims and volunteers at a FEMA disaster recovery center in one Staten Island neighborhood.
At this stop, he also met privately with the parents of two young boys – Brandon and Connor Moore — who died after being swept out to sea.
“I had an opportunity to give some hugs and communicate thoughts and prayers to the Moore family,” Obama said of Damien and Glenda Moore. “They lost two young sons sin the course of this tragedy. I obviously shared with them…. [my] heartbreak for what they went through.”
Obama said the resiliency and generosity of the Moores, even in their grief, was an example of the “spirit and sense of togetherness and looking out for one another that’s… going to carry us through this tragedy.”
“There are still going to be complaints over the next several months,” he said. “Not everybody is going to be satisfied” with the pace of recovery. But, he added, “I’m very proud of you New York.”
The president was joined today by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary Donovan.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio