(CNN) – President Barack Obama recognized the massive destruction wreaked by Superstorm Sandy this past week in his weekly address on Saturday – his last weekly address before Election Day – and said he was inspired by stories of first responders.
“Today, I ask everyone to keep them in your prayers,” he said, speaking of the victims. “And as President, I promise them this: your country will be there for you for as long as it takes to recover and rebuild.”
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The superstorm’s death toll in the United States surpassed 100 late Friday, including 22 in New Jersey and 48 in New York, the U.S. states hit hardest by the storm.
One storm modeling firm has estimated the damage at between $30 billion and $50 billion, and nearly $18 million in federal disaster assistance has been distributed so far.
Obama stressed in his address his involvement in the federal response.
“From the earliest hours, I ordered that resources be made available to states in the path of the storm as soon as they needed them,” Obama said. “And I instructed my team not to let red tape and bureaucracy get in the way of solving problems, especially when it came to making sure local utilities could restore power as quickly as possible.”
On Saturday morning, the president will hold a meeting on relief efforts with state and local officials, a White House official said Friday. In addition to the Homeland Security secretary and Federal Emergency and Management Agency administrator, the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York will participate either in person or by phone.
He visited New Jersey earlier in the week and toured the damage with Gov. Chris Christie.
In his address, the president recognized the efforts of first responders, from New York south to North Carolina, “who repeatedly put themselves in harm’s way to bravely save the lives of others.”
Obama urged those seeking to aid in the recovery efforts to contact the Red Cross.
Obama’s rival in the presidential race, GOP nominee Mitt Romney, was to deliver his party’s address, Romney spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters on Friday. That address was not immediately available early Saturday morning.
- CNN White House Producer Lesa Jansen contributed to this report