Obama Visits New Jersey
U.S. President Barack Obama hugs marina owner after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey (Reuters) Reuters

US President Barack Obama has visited New Jersey two days after superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across the state.

The storm, which has killed 63 people and caused mass power outages across America's north-east, has forced the president to suspend campaigning for a third day ahead of the upcoming White House elections.

Obama took an aerial tour of the damaged area in the Marine One helicopter, accompanied by New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie and Craig Fugate, head of America's Federal Emergency Management Agency. A team of journalists travelled in a separate helicopter.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the boroughs of Ship Bottom and Harvey Cedars, on Long Beach Island, have been decimated by Sandy's floods and high winds. However the worst damage was observed in Seaside Heights, the beachside resort which is the setting for TV series Jersey Shore.

Speaking at a press conference after his tour of inspection, Obama said: "We are here for you and we will not forget. We will follow up to make sure you get all the help you need until you rebuild.

"We are not going to tolerate red tape; we're not going to tolerate bureaucracy".

Obama said that he had mandated a "15-minute rule" for federal officials, to ensure rapid support for those regions requiring immediate assistance.

Explaining the rule, the President promised to "return everybody's phone calls in 15 minutes. Whether it's the mayors, the governors, county officials, if they need something, we figure out a way to say yes."

'Extraordinary leadership'

Christie, who was previously known as a critic of Obama, expressed his gratitude to the President, adding that they share a "great working relationship".

"I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for the people of our state," the Republican said.

Obama, on his part, praised the governor for his "extraordinary leadership" and appreciated his commitment in the relief activities.

The president plans to resume his campaign soon. Republican Candidate Mitt Romney, who halted his own campaign at the peak of the storm, has resumed activities in Florida.

The city of New York is slowly getting back to normality. Major stock exchanges in the city have reopened, although using generators for power back-up.