SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told Vice President Joe Biden the "entire economy" of the Seaside Heights resort, struck by superstorm Sandy, may be at risk.
Guadagno accompanied Biden Sunday on a tour of damage from Sandy. When he asked about damage in the Seaside Heights region, she said, "If we dont get Seaside Heights back up, we're going to lose our entire economy."
When he asked about damage further south, in the Cape May area, he was told damage was not as severe as it was around Seaside Heights.
After a helicopter tour, Biden traveled by a motorcade to a firehouse in Seaside Heights, where he met with firefighters, police officers and local officials.
"How many of you guys are out of your homes right now?" Biden asked.
Most of those in attendance raised their hands.
Following a tour of devastation along the Seaside Heights boardwalk, Biden said the federal government will help New Jersey and other affected states rebuild.
"This is going to be a long process. this is going to be an expensive process," he said.
"This is a national responsibility," he said. "this is not a local responsibility.
"If you're not an Easterner it's hard to understand that the ocean to us is the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park and everything else combined," Biden said. "It is a gigantic part of not only our economy but who we are. It's a gigantic part of the culture as well."
The vice president noted that New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Connecticut and other eastern states respond "every time the rest of the country is in real trouble."
"And it's going to be a heavy lift. These are difficult times in terms of budgets but the president has made it clear that we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the [Army Corps of Engineers] is fully funded, that FEMA has their needs and that all the programs that exist under the auspices of the federal government not only continue to exist but are funded so that we can make sure that this area of the country is fully, fully, fully restored.
"So as the president said when he was up here with the governor, we're not going anywhere," said Biden, who was born in Pennsylvania and has lived most of his life in Delaware. "We're not -- not -- going anywhere. And you've got a homeboy in the deal who gets it."