President Obama to tour Sandy-ravaged New Jersey coast line with Chris Christie

By Jim Kuhnhenn

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 27 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Indeed, inside the White House, FEMA is perceived as an example of what's best about government. The agency, panned for its response under President Bush to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has made a turnaround under administrator Craig Fugate and has been commended for its work in disasters from the Joplin, Mo., tornado in 2011 to Hurricane Sandy last year.

Obama's trip Tuesday also comes two days after he toured the tornado devastation outside Oklahoma City, Okla., where FEMA has been the face of the federal government as well.

Josh Earnest, the White House's deputy press secretary, says FEMA represents "competent, efficient government that meets the needs of the people."

"The renaissance of the agency embodies what the president ran on," he said.

Overall, the federal government has directed more than $14 billion so far in aid to help families, support state and local rebuilding efforts, and assist major transportation reconstruction and in community development grants to states affected by Katrina, the bulk of which has gone to New Jersey and New York.

Even as Obama meets businesses and homeowners who have benefited from recovery work, the White House says he also plans to talk about the importance of renewing economic opportunities for middle-class families still getting their lives back. It's a message that dovetails with Obama's attempts to keep the economy prominent by highlighting economic growth after the Great Recession while also making his case for additional initiatives to keep the economy from stumbling again.

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