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Housing Secretary Donovan to lead Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts

In his second visit to areas destroyed by last month’s Hurricane Sandy, President Obama said federal officials, led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, would be devising a “game plan” with state authorities to see the storm recovery through to its end.

“There's got to be a plan for rebuilding. And that plan's going to have to be coordinated, and there's going to need resources,” Obama said, standing in Staten Island’s hard-hit New Dorp Beach and surrounded by New York officials like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Obama said Donovan was particularly fit for the job because he formerly served as the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and has held several other positions in the Empire State.

“We thought it'd be good to have a New Yorker who's going to be the point person,” Obama said.

The president also shared the story of a family he met at a FEMA recovery center he toured earlier in the day, who endured personal tragedy but found comfort in the kindness of a police officer who went above and beyond his responsibilities. The Moore family, Obama said, lost two young sons in the hurricane, but they were grateful for a police officer who stayed with them during their ordeal. 

“When they knew that their sons were missing, Lt. [Kevin] Gallagher made a point of staying with them and doing everything he could so that, ultimately, they knew what had happened with their boys and were able to recover their bodies and has been with them as a source of support ever since,” Obama said.

“That's not in the job description of Lt. Gallagher. He did that because that's what so many of our first responders do.  They go above and beyond the call of duty to respond to people in need."

Cuomo echoed Obama’s praise for the residents’ resilience, telling Obama, “We are New Yorkers, Mr. President. We are tough, and we are resilient, and we will overcome, and we will be the better for it.”