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Obama pledges federal help for Irene recovery

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) — President Barack Obama stood on a bridge overlooking the rain-swollen and fast-rushing Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey’s third-largest city, and said the federal government would work to rebuild towns recovering from Hurricane Irene’s wrath.

The Passaic, which had washed over the bridge, swept through the once-booming factory town of 150,000, flooding the downtown area and forcing hundreds to evacuate. More than 100 people had to be rescued from the rising waters after the storm.

“You know, it could have been worse. But we should not underestimate the heartache that’s going through a lot of these communities, affecting a lot of families,” Obama said.

In nearby Wayne, the president made his way down Fayette Avenue, walking past flooded homes, the garage doors open. Piles of water-damaged debris littered the curb.

“Everybody’s going to be working hard to help you recover,” Obama told one woman as he put his hand on her shoulder.

The Passaic crested at twice its flood stage at a record 14 feet, depositing debris and muddy water stains on buildings and homes across Paterson.

“The entire country is behind you,” Obama said after viewing the destruction.


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