NEW YORK CITY —
"We are here for you," President Barack Obama said Wednesday in Brigantine, N.J., touring a ravaged shore. "We are not going to tolerate red tape. We are not going to tolerate bureaucracy."
Obama joined Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who had been one of the most vocal supporters of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, to tour the ravaged coast. But the two men spoke only of helping those harmed by the storm.
On Wednesday, masses of people walked shoulder-to-shoulder across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan for work, reversing the escape scenes from the Sept. 11 terror attack and the blackout of 2003.
They reached an island where many people took the lack of power and water and transportation as a personal challenge.
On Third Avenue, people gathered around a power strip that had been offered to charge cellphones.
At a fire hydrant on West 16th Street, 9-year-old Shiyin Ge and her brother, 12-year-old Shiyuan Ge, stood in line to fill up buckets of water. But unlike the adults, the two kids held plastic Halloween candy pails painted with grinning jack-o-lanterns.
"There's no water in our house," said Shiyin Ge, who had planned to dress up as a ladybug for Halloween.
Downtown Manhattan, which includes the financial district, Sept. 11 memorial and other tourist sites, was still mostly an urban landscape of shuttered bodegas and boarded-up restaurants. People roamed in search of food, power and a hot shower.
Suburban commuter trains started running for the first time on Wednesday, and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor was to take commuters from city to city on Friday for the first time since the storm.
From West Virginia to the Jersey Shore, the storm's damage was still being felt, and seen.
In New Jersey, signs of the good life that had defined wealthy shorefront enclaves like Bayhead and Mantoloking lay scattered and broken: $3,000 barbecue grills buried beneath the sand and hot tubs cracked and filled with seawater.