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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President

Paterson, New Jersey

1:44 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, obviously visiting Wayne, visiting Paterson, many of these surrounding communities, gives you a sense of the devastation that's taken place not only here in New Jersey but in upstate New York and Vermont and a whole range of states that were affected by Hurricane Irene.

I want to thank Governor Christie, Mayor Jones, the entire congressional delegation that has coordinated in an unprecedented way to try to deal with this crisis.  And part of what I think has helped to avert even worse tragedies and greater loss of life is because of the extraordinary responsiveness and farsighted thinking of state, local and federal personnel.  I'm very proud of the work that FEMA has done not only from our central agency but, more importantly, the folks locally here on the ground who have been coordinating with the emergency management teams here in New Jersey.

I want to thank the Red Cross for their extraordinary responsiveness.  We've seen a huge outpouring of volunteers; the private sector is getting involved in trying to do what they can to help the communities that have been hard hit.

The main message that I have for all the residents not only of New Jersey but all those communities that have been affected by flooding, by the destruction that occurred as a consequence of Hurricane Irene is that the entire country is behind you and we are going to make sure that we provide all the resources that are necessary in order to help these communities rebuild.

And I know that there's been some talk about whether there's going to be a slowdown in getting funding out here, emergency relief.  As President of the United States, I want to make it very clear that we are going to meet our federal obligations -- because we're one country, and when one part of the country gets affected, whether it's a tornado in Joplin, Missouri, or a hurricane that affects the Eastern Seaboard, then we come together as one country and we make sure that everybody gets the help that they need.  And the last thing that the residents here of Paterson or the residents of Vermont or the residents of upstate New York need is Washington politics getting in the way of us making sure that we are doing what we can to help communities that have been badly affected.

So, again, I want to thank federal, state, local officials who have been working around the clock to respond to this crisis. We know it could have been worse but we should not underestimate the heartache that's going through a lot of these communities and affecting a lot of these families.  And we want to make sure that we're there to help, and I'm going to make sure that even after the cameras are gone and attention is somewhere else that FEMA and federal officials continue to work with our local officials to make sure we're doing the right thing.

So, thank you, guys.

Q    Mr. President, Congressman Cantor has talked about offsetting budget cuts --

THE PRESIDENT:  We're going to make sure resources are here. All right?

1:46 P.M. EDT