8 Dec 2012

Obama seeks $70 billion for Sandy clean-up

3:00 pm on 8 December 2012

United States president Barack Obama has requested more than $70 billion from Congress for response, recovery and repairs in the wake of "Superstorm" Sandy.

The scale of the request has been welcomed by the governors of the two worst-hit states, New York and New Jersey, even though it falls short of the $95 billion estimate of the damage in those states and in Connecticut.

The White House says the storm could wind up being the second or third most costly storm in US history, exceeded only by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Sandy has been blamed for more than 120 deaths, and many thousands of people are still unable to live in their flood-damaged homes.

The BBC reports that the presidential request will have to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate before funds are made available.

It is expected to face scrutiny in Congress, where many fiscal conservatives are strongly opposed to increases in federal spending.

Mr Obama's team has proposed no spending cuts in conjunction with the funding request, saying the "sudden, urgent, unforeseen and temporary" nature of the disaster makes the request allowable under disaster-relief laws.

Governors Andrew Cuomo (New York) and Chris Christie (New Jersey) have thanked Mr Obama for his "steadfast commitment of support" since the storm hit on 29 October.

They say the package will pay for protecting their region against the "devastating impacts of future superstorms".

Rolling Stones join relief concert line-up

Away from Washington, fund-raising efforts big and small are continuing in aid of relief work.

In New York, organisers of a huge relief concert due to be held at Madison Square Garden on 12 December - called 12.12.12 - have announced that the Rolling Stones will join an already glittering line-up of Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and the Who.

Twilight star Kristen Stewart and actor Leonardo Di Caprio have also announced they will join the fund-raiser.