Obama holds top-level storm emergency meeting

AFP , Tuesday 30 Oct 2012

US President Barack Obama holds video-teleconference with top officials in Situation Room of White House, tells team top priority is ensure availability of resources to state, local responders

US President Barack Obama expressed sadness over deaths from superstorm Sandy and directed federal responders to continue assistance efforts in disaster-struck areas after a top-level briefing Tuesday.

Obama held a video-teleconference with top officials in the Situation Room of the White House on the latest developments associated with Sandy, which roared ashore Monday with hurricane-force winds, causing serious floods and wind damage.

"During the briefing, the president expressed his concern for those impacted by the storm, as well as the heroic first responders who are selflessly putting themselves in harm's way to protect members of their communities," a White House statement said.

"He also noted his sadness over the loss of life associated with the storm so far." At least 25 people have so far died in the storm in the mainland United States and Canada.

"The president told his team that their top priority is to make sure all available resources are being provided to state and local responders as quickly as possible and directed them to identify and resolve any potential bottlenecks or shortfalls should they arise."

Obama's meeting included Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Craig Fugate, the chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the secretaries of energy, transportation and defense.

The president also told his top aides that he wanted the government to go beyond lifesaving activities to support state and local efforts to restore power, following widespread outages.

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