Watch CBSN Live

Obama praises American "heroism" in face of Hurricane Sandy

With no admonishment of a partisan divide in Washington for the first time in weeks, President Obama in his weekly address opted instead to applaud Americans uniting across the country in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy - "one of the worst storms in our history," he said.

"This week, we have been humbled by nature's destructive power, but we've been inspired as well," the president said. "For when the storm was darkest, the heroism of our fellow citizens shone brightest."

Those heroes, Mr. Obama said, included "the nurses and doctors at NYU Medical Center who evacuated fragile newborns, carrying some down several flights of stairs; the firefighters in Queens who battled an inferno from flooded streets, and rescued people from an apartment building by boat; the Coast Guard crews from North Carolina who saved a sinking ship in stormy seas - and their rescue swimmer who, when he reached those in need, said, 'I'm Dan, and I hear you guys need a ride.'"

And thanks to his administration's preemptive planning "from the earliest hours," the president said, resources were immediately available to those in the storm's path, and red tape barriers were torn down. The Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-staged response teams from North Carolina to Maine, deployed resources as well as thousands of personnel, "and by midweek," he said, "the Department of Defense was ready to fly in cargo planes that could be loaded with trucks and equipment to help local power companies get up and running faster."

Still, the president emphasized, "recovery will be a long, hard road for many communities." He detailed his "heartbreaking" tour Wednesday through New Jersey with the state's Republican governor, Chris Christie: "Families have lost loved ones; entire communities have been wiped away; even some of the first responders who repeatedly put themselves in harm's way to bravely save the lives of others have suffered losses of their own," the president said.

"Today, I ask everyone to keep them in your prayers," he continued, "and as president, I promise them this: your country will be there for you for as long as it takes to recover and rebuild."

View CBS News In