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Superstorm not yet over: Obama

Washington: Describing the crisis triggered by superstorm Sandy as "heartbreaking" for the entire nation, US President Barack Obama today warned the storm was "not yet over". "This storm is not yet over," Obama said during his trip to the headquarters of the American Red Cross here.

Describing as "extraordinary" hardship seen over the last 24 hours in the regions following the storm, Obama said this is "something that is heartbreaking for the entire nation" and it's the time for speed up rescue and recovery operations. Obama drove down to the Red Cross office headquarters to review rescue and recovery operation and said the federal government would push hard to provide resources to the States badly hit by Sandy.

According to a White House statement, Obama will travel to New Jersey to have a personal assessment of the devastation and take stock of the situation on the ground. Obama has suspended his election campaign. During his trip to the Red Cross headquarters, Obama praised the "spirit" and "resilience" of New York City folks, specifically citing those at New York Hospital "carrying fragile newborns to safety" and the firefighters bravely wading in water to save lives.

"It is still moving north. There are still communities that could be affected. And so I want to emphasise there's still risks of flooding. There are still risks of downed power lines, risks of high winds," Obama said adding as such it is very important for the public to continue to monitor.

Talk about the "extraordinary hardship" that the country has seen over the last 24 hours, he said his "thoughts and prayers" go out to all the families who've lost loved ones.

"Unfortunately, there have been fatalities as a consequence of Hurricane Sandy. And it's not clear that we've counted up all the fatalities at this point. Obviously, this is something that is heartbreaking for the entire nation," he said.

"We certainly feel profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended, and are going to be going through some very tough times over the next several days and perhaps several weeks and months. The most important message I have for them is that America is with you. We are standing behind you and we are going to do everything we can to help you get back on your feet," he said.

Obama said he had conversation with the governors and mayors in the Sandy affected areas and praised their efforts.

"I want to praise them for the extraordinary work that they have done. You know, sadly, we are getting more experience with these kinds of big-impact storms along the east coast and the preparation shows. Were it not for the outstanding work that they and their teams have already done and will continue to do in the affected regions, we could have seen more deaths and more property damage," he said.

There are places like Newark, New Jersey, for example, where 80, 90 per cent of the people without power, he said adding they can't have a situation where that lasts for days on end.

"And so my instructions to the federal agency has been: Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something. I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they're needed as quickly as possible," he said.

Recovery process in a place like New Jersey is going to take a significant amount of time, he said, adding the recovery process in lower Manhattan is going to take a lot of time, given the nature of devastation caused by the super storm Sandy.

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