President Obama Speaks on Rebuilding the Jersey Shore

>>Governor Christie: Good
afternoon, New Jersey. (Applause.) I want to thank all of you
for braving the weather and being out here today. This past weekend has been an
incredibly important weekend in New Jersey’s history. We all came together as a
community over the last seven months to endure and begin to
recover from the worst storm that this state has ever seen. And for all the folks
here, the local officials, the county officials, and the
everyday citizens of New Jersey, the credit goes to all of you. Thank you for giving me the
opportunity to lead you, and welcome back to the Jersey
Shore for the summer of ’13. (Applause.) And as I said, this
has been a community effort, everybody working together. From the minute the storm hit,
we were working with the local mayors all up and down the
Jersey Shore and in Burton County. Everybody came together: Republicans, Democrats,
Independents. We all came together because New
Jersey is more important and our citizens lives are more
important than any kind of politics at all. (Applause.) And so I wish the
sun was shining like it was on Sunday and Monday, but Asbury
Park is still a great place to be, whether it’s raining
or whether it isn’t. (Applause.) I was here on Sunday
walking along the boardwalk, and the enthusiasm, the spirit
of all the people of this town, you could just feel it. And everybody is ready to
welcome America back to the Jersey Shore this
summer, and so am I. (Applause.) Two days
after Sandy hit us, the President of the United
States came to visit New Jersey, to see the damage for himself,
and to pledge his support and the support of the federal
government to help us recover and rebuild. And so now, seven months later,
we know this: that we’ve made great progress, but that we
still have so much more to do, so many more of our families who
need to get back in their homes, so many more of our businesses
who need to get back up and running and employing people
still, so many, so many of our citizens who just
want their lives to go back to normal. And so, while I’m thrilled at
the progress we’ve made in the last seven months — and we got
a chance to show the president some of that earlier today up in
Point Pleasant — I also made sure that he understood there’s
still a lot more work to do for the people of our state. And I am not going to let
anything or anyone get in between me and the completion
of the mission to restore and recover our great state. (Applause.) And so now, on behalf
of the people of the state of New Jersey, it is my privilege
to introduce the President of the United States of America. (playing “Hail to the
Chief”) (Applause.)>>The President:
Hello, New Jersey! (Applause.) It is good
to be back in Jersey.>>Audience Member: We love you!>>The President:
I love you back! (Applause.) Let me, first of all,
say thank you to Governor Christie for that introduction and
the great work he’s done here. (Applause.) Your Mayor, Ed Johnson, is here
as well and has been working tirelessly on your behalf. (Applause.) We’ve got three
great representatives in Congress from New Jersey —
Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne, Jr. (Applause.) Now, last week, my advisors asked me — they said, Mr. President, do you
want to spend next Tuesday in Washington, or would you rather
spend it at the Jersey Shore? (Applause.) And I’ve got to say
I’ve got to make some tough decisions as President, but
this wasn’t one of them. (Laughter.)>>Audience Member: (Inaudible.)>>The President: I appreciate that. (Applause.) Governor Christie
and I just spent some time on the Point Pleasant boardwalk. I got a chance to see the
world’s tallest sandcastle being built. We played some Touchdown
Fever — I got to say, Christie got it in the tire
the first try — (laughter) — although I did pay
for his throws. (Laughter.) I played a little Frog Bog,
and Governor Christie’s kids taught me the right technique for
hitting the hammer to get those frogs in the buckets
the way I was supposed to. (Laughter.) And, of course, I
met with folks who are still rebuilding after Sandy. Now, we all understand there’s
still a lot of work to be done. There are homes to rebuild. There are businesses to reopen. There are landmarks and beaches
and boardwalks that aren’t all the way back yet. But thanks to the hard work
of an awful lot of people, we’ve got wonderful shops and
restaurants and arcades that are opening their doors. And I saw what thousands of
Americans saw over Memorial Day Weekend: You are
stronger than the storm. (Applause.) After all you’ve dealt with,
after all you’ve been through, the Jersey Shore is back
and it is open for business, and they want all Americans
to know that they’re ready to welcome you here. (Applause.) And I’ve got to say,
if they ever let me have any fun, I’d have some fun here. (Laughter and applause.) I was telling my staff on
the ride over, I could see being a little younger — (laughter) —
and having some fun on the Jersey Shore. (Applause.) I can’t
do that anymore. (Laughter.) Maybe after I leave office. (Laughter and applause.) I think a friend of mine from
here once put it pretty well: “Down the shore, everything’s all right.” (Applause.) He’s the only guy a President
still has to call “The Boss.” (Laughter.) Other than the First Lady. (Laughter.) But for generations, that’s what
this place has been about. Life isn’t always easy. We’re a people who have to work
hard and do what it takes to provide for our families
— but when you come here, everything’s all right. And whether you spend a lifetime
here, or a weekend, or a summer, the Shore holds a special place
in your heart and a special place in America’s
mythology, America’s memory. When I was here
seven months ago, Hurricane Sandy had just
hammered communities all across the East Coast, and
lives were lost, and homes and businesses
were destroyed, and folks were hurting. And I remember something
Chris said back then. He said, “We cannot permit that
sorrow to replace the resilience that I know all New
Jerseyans have.”>>Audience Member: Yes, we do!>>The President: And it didn’t. You didn’t let it. You kept going. Because these towns have a
special character — not just in the summer but all year round. From the moment
the hurricane hit, first responders worked around
the clock to save lives and property. And neighbors opened their homes
and their hearts to one another. And you came together
as citizens to rebuild. And we’re not done yet, and I
want to make sure everybody understands that, because for
somebody who hasn’t seen their home rebuilt yet or is still
trying to get their business up and running again,
after all those losses, we don’t want them to think that
somehow we’ve checked a box and we’ve moved on. That’s part of the
reason I came back, to let people know we’re going
to keep on going until we finish. (Applause.) But if anybody wondered whether
the Shore could ever be all right again, you
got your answer this weekend. (Applause.) From Sea Bright to Bay Head,
from Belmar to Seaside Heights, folks were hanging out
on balconies and beaches. Shows were sold out
at the Stone Pony. (Applause.) Kids were eating
ice cream and going on rides, going and eating
some more ice cream. (Laughter.) Guys were trying to
win those big stuffed animals to impress a special girl. So like I said, the Jersey
Shore is back in business. The work is not over, though. Seven months ago, I promised you
that your country would have your back. I told you we would not quit
until the job was done, and I meant it. I meant it. (Applause.) Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA,
he couldn’t be here today, but I want to thank him and his
team for their ongoing work. FEMA was here before
Sandy made landfall; they’re still here today. They’re working with the
Governor’s team and with the task force I set up to support
families and communities who still need help. Since the storm hit, we’ve
provided billions of dollars to families and state and local
governments across the region, and more is on the way. And even as my team is helping
communities recover from the last hurricane season, they’re
already starting to prepare for the next hurricane season, which
starts this Saturday — because if there’s one thing that
we learned last year, it’s that when a storm hits,
we’ve got to be ready. Education, preparation —
that’s what makes a difference. That’s what saves lives. And anyone who wants to make
sure they’re ready — for a hurricane or any other disaster
— I want them to visit something — a website
called Make a plan. It’s never too early. We’ve also got to remember that
rebuilding efforts like these aren’t measured in
weeks or months, but they’re measured in years. That’s why just
this past Thursday, we announced billions of new
relief aid for New York and New Jersey transit agencies. And that’s why the Army Corps of
Engineers is working to restore beaches and strengthen the
Shore’s natural defenses. That’s why last year I joined
Governor Christie and your representatives, fighting to
get a relief package through Congress. We’re going to keep doing what
it takes to rebuild all the way and make it better
than it was before, make it stronger
than it was before, make it more resilient
than it was before. (Applause.) So, Jersey, you’ve
still got a long road ahead, but when you look out on this
beach — this beautiful beach here, even in the
rain, it looks good. You look out over the horizon,
you can count on the fact that you won’t be alone. Your fellow citizens will be
there for you — just like we’ll be there for folks in Breezy
Point and Staten Island — (applause) — and obviously,
we’re going to be there for the folks in Monroe [sic], Oklahoma,
after the devastation of last week. (Applause.) Part of the reason I
wanted to come back here was not just to send a
message to New Jersey, but send a message to folks
in Oklahoma: When we make a commitment that
we’ve got your back, we mean it — (applause) — and
we’re not going to finish until the work is done. Because that’s who we are. We help each other as Americans
through the bad times, and we sure make the
most of the good times. (Applause.) So let’s have some
good times on the New Jersey Shore this summer. (Applause.) And next summer
and the summer after that, and all year long, America,
bring your family and friends. Spend a little money
on the Jersey Shore. (Applause.) You’ll find some of
the friendliest folks on Earth, some of the best
beaches on Earth. And you’ll see that even after
a tough couple of months, this place is as special as
ever, and down the Shore, everything is still all right. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

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